Debate winners and debate losers are fun to talk about over a few cups of coffee the morning after, but the bottom line is that today’s political debates have a minimal impact on election outcomes.
In fact, most of the folks paying attention to last week’s debate at Belhaven College, the first of four such events, between gubernatorial candidates Haley Barbour and Ronnie Musgrove already know who they’ll be casting a ballot for in November’s general election.
Barbour and Musgrove spent the hour trading jabs and dancing around issues as only skilled politicians can do. As we expected, fingers were pointed on the number of jobs created or lost in the past four years, who did or didn’t support NAFTA, and which candidate has the better ideas on eduction — computers or discipline?
New ground was not to be found.
Nonetheless, seeing the candidates together isn’t wholly pointless, and perhaps as we move on to the next few events, both candidates will make progress on actually addressing — specifically — what they will and will not do to improve the lives of everyday Mississippians.
We’ll see. However, the more likely scenario is more of the same.
As we enter the last few weeks of this year’s intense campaign season, expect the issues to be lost in a sea of slung mud and empty rhetoric.
May the best candidate win.