Undecided Voters Get a Voice in 2nd Debate

Undecided voters will have the opportunity to press the candidates on domestic policy tonight, but will they get the answers they need in a tight race?

ROUND 2: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will spar amidst questions from undecided voters at tonight’s debate.

Undecided voters will get a chance to ask questions about domestic and foreign policy at the second of three presidential debates tonight at Hoftstra University in Hempstead, New York. This bout will be moderated by CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley in town hall meeting format and will air at 9:00 p.m. EST.

It will be the last chance for the candidates to debate domestic issues like immigration reform and the foreclosure and student loan crisis, noted Jason Linkins and Elyse Siegel at The Huffington Post, because the final debate will be about foreign policy. “The good news, however, is that ordinary people think differently from political reporter types — the amount of untrod ground they cover, along with the quality of their questions, could surprise you,” the duo said.

Seventy-one percent of likely voters think Romney won the first debate, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, so The Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake predict that “the pressure will be on the incumbent to show he has a pulse (and probably a bit more) tonight.” The president may need to up his game, but not, some say, with a demeanor as pugnacious as Vice President Joe Biden’s was in his debate last week with his “friend” Rep. Paul Ryan.

The challenge, says Dan Turner at The Los Angeles Times, is: “How do you interrupt your debate opponent, contradict everything he says, strike a pose of amused disbelief while he rants on about your rotten leadership, and hit him with zingers that the pundits are still applauding the next morning, all without coming off as rude? And, in President Obama’s case, how do you do all this while still looking presidential?”

The stakes are high for both candidates, if USA Today’s polling roundup is any indication of how tight the race is three weeks out from the election. “Obama leads by a single point — 49%-48% — in the latest Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll released Monday morning,” but “Romney leads 50%-48% in the poll’s 10 top ‘battleground states': Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.” However, “a Washington Post-ABC News poll gives Obama a 49%-46% lead among likely voters” and “various polls also show a tossup race in the Electoral College.”

Crowley has her own performance to worry about, given the fact that both campaigns have already (and self-servingly) complained about her plans for conducting it, how biting the critique was of her predecessors in the first two debates, and the fact that she is only the second woman to moderate a general election presidential debate. I’m exhausted just reading that.

The most important question in my mind is: Will voters get the information they need about domestic policy to make a wise choice on Nov. 6?

What do you think?

Have the candidates adequately debated domestic policy? If not, what do you want to hear from them tonight?

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About the author, Christine A. Scheller

Christine A. Scheller is a widely published journalist and essayist, and an editor-at-large at UrbanFaith. She lives with her husband at the Jersey Shore and in Washington, DC, where she helps facilitate dialogue between scientific and religious communities.
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  2. I have worked with many people who prefer to file unemployment for the maximum number of months before they even look for a job! These silly politicians keep waying everyone wants to work, but can’t that is NOT true. I personally know a young woman who drove to work in a jaguar lived in a section 8 home, wouldnt work FT for us, because then she would loose her food stamps, AFDC section 8 housing, and she was making 18.00 an hour!!!! come on!!! open your eyes and get down here with the average person and you will see and experience real life and real free loading entitlement people!!