What To Watch For During The Third Republican Debate

Tonight’s Republican debate will be the third time the candidates face off on TV. Hear what these debates with sky-high ratings mean for the Presidential race next fall.

By Rhonda FanningOctober 28, 2015 2:17 pm| ,

When did political debates turn into must-see TV, drawing record-breaking numbers of viewers?

This primary season’s debates have broken records on both sides of the aisle. Earlier this month, the first Democratic debate garnered 15.3 million viewers, making it the most watched Democratic primary debate in history. Those numbers may seem like small potatoes when you look at the GOP side, with 24 and 23 million viewers of the first and second debates, respectively.

But will the spectacle translate into higher voter turnout? Jennifer Mercieca, associate professor of communication at Texas A&M University, has been following debates of both parties.

“We don’t know who’s going to win,” she says. “There’s a lot of differences of opinion in terms of the kind of candidate that we ought to be electing. That uncertainty is really drawing people to find out what people have to say.”

What you’ll hear in the segment:

-Why “great television” doesn’t necessarily mean a great debate

-What people expect in terms of the two parties’ styles of debate so far

-Why Mercieca thinks debates aren’t simply a sideshow and what purpose they serve