SPRINGFIELD -- Will these debates make a difference at the polls this November? One political scientist says not so much.
Michael Miller from UIS says they don't often sway voters one way or the other; they really just reinforce their beliefs on certain topics, like the economy. He says most of the remarks were pretty standard: President Obama going after Mitt Romney for what he says are unaffordable cuts in his tax plan, and Romney defending his platform, arguing that the President has done little to help create more jobs. He says while the debates may not impact most voters at the poll, they're still helpful.
"This the very best way to get information about the political issues of the day. 30 second ads where we're taking shots at each other's personal lives aren't particularly meaningful or helpful in democratic discourse," he said. "But, 90 minutes of debate about domestic policy and who the candidates are and defending their records and citing well-known documented statistics is good for everybody."
So who are the debates targeting? Miller says swing voters, one's who teeter back and forth between candidates.
And that's not all, they're also focusing on the media. He says part of the candidates' strategies is to throw out zingers; those are one-liners that they hope will get picked up in the press in the days to follow.
This is the first in a series of three debates between Romney and Obama. The next one will take place on October 16th, at Hofstra University in New York.