At a glance
The final two debates will run from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday’s debate will be a town hall format and will include questions on both foreign and domestic policy. The Oct. 22 debate will be solely on foreign policy.
Debates won’t change who Mary Chatfield and Peggy Green support in the Nov. 6 election.
As the respective chairs of the Democratic Women and Republican Women of Forsyth County, the two are solidly behind their parties’ presidential tickets. But they both eagerly watched Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, as they did the first presidential debate Oct. 3, hoping their candidates would say something to gain the trust and vote of coveted undecided voters.
“He did an outstanding, terrific job and I think that he maybe reminded the people of some of the things that the Republicans are saying that are not true,” Chatfield said of Vice President Joe Biden.
Green had similar praise for her candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who she felt demonstrated “a very good knowledge of all the issues and expressed himself well.”
But swaying undecided voters is no easy task, according to Charles Bullock, legislative and Southern politics professor at the University of Georgia.
“The guestimates are probably less than 10 percent — maybe 6 or 7 percent, they say — are truly up for grabs,” he said.
For those voters, the debates can offer insight into both candidates. Bullock said the consensus is that Biden and Ryan both fared well in their debate Thursday.
“The partisans went away rejoicing on both sides,” Bullock said. “But people don’t tend to vote on the basis of the vice presidential nominees.”
That could be unfortunate for President Barack Obama as early voting begins Monday in Georgia. The consensus is that his Republican challenger Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate Oct. 3.
“So many Democrats were very disappointed in the president’s lackluster performance,” Bullock said.
Chatfield conceded that her candidate “wasn’t on his best game” during the first debate.
“I really want to see what President Obama is going to do next week,” Chatfield said. “The president just really has to come out and talk about the differences basically of what he and the Democratic Party stands for and how they’re going to help Americans. I think that we have to go forward.”
Biden’s performance Thursday was a step in the right direction, according to Chatfield.
“He reminded us of the differences between some of the things the Democrats stand for,” she said. “That we’re here to take care of the everyday average Joe.”
But Green said Ryan held his own and did so without interrupting.
“I think he’s a respectful speaking person who talks more about the things that the Republican Party and his ticket are planning to try to get done, and I think he’s a fine young man and I’m very pleased with him.”
Like Chatfield, Green said she plans to wait until Nov. 6 to vote, even though her mind is made up. Based on the first two debates, however, she isn’t opposed to others voting ahead of time.
“I was pleased with the last [presidential] debate because I felt like my candidate won,” Green said. “So if they want to vote based just on that debate, I’m OK with that.”
The presidential candidates will face off again Tuesday, on both domestic and foreign policy, and Oct. 22 on foreign policy.
Green said she anticipates Romney will continue to “hold his own.”
“I expect him to get more of the information out about what type of president he expects to be and that people who watch it will see him in a more positive light.”
Bullock said he expects Obama, given his first performance, will take an approach similar to Biden’s and challenge statements made by Romney — something his base accused him of not doing last time.
Romney, Bullock said, will also continue to challenge Obama’s presidential record.
“When you’re running against an incumbent, you have to make the incumbent the issue,” he said. “You have to convince some share of the voters who previously supported the president to rethink their positions.”