Will the first debate be a game changer? History says, not so much

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3 2012 1:50 p.m. MDT

Associated Press
According to media reports, viewers can expect great drama in the first presidential debate as both candidates look to break away in the final month before the election. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicted the race would be "turned upside down" by Thursday morning, while The New York Times' Nate Silver said the first debate may be Mitt Romney's best chance to turn the race around. The more realistic view, history suggests, is that the debate will have little impact on the election outcome. Political scientist James Stimson found little evidence of debate game changers in presidential campaigns between 1960 and 2000, the Washington Monthly reported, while political scientists Robert Erikson and Christopher Wlezien called the debate effect "fragile." "In other words, in the average election year, you can accurately predict where the race will stand after the debates by knowing the state of the race before the debates," reporter John Sides wrote. Here's a look at some "game changers" from past presidential debates.
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