Do the Debates Make a Difference?

Danville, VA - The first Presidential debate is Wednesday night. And many voters will be watching each candidate carefully. But do the debates really make a difference on how people vote?

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have likely spent the day on Wednesday preparing. They suspect that they are going through lists of likely questions and even some topics that might throw them off.

"I think it's a very exciting time in our country but a very perilous time in our county and we certainly want to make sure we have good leadership going forward," said Tim Newsom, who plans to watch the debate.

As millions of voters tune into the first Presidential debate, a critical eye will be on both candidates. But what is the audience really looking for? Averett University Political Science Professor Simona Kragh says it may not be what you would expect.

"What they get out of the debate is not substantive information, it's a gut feeling of the candidates," said Kragh.

Kragh argues that a majority of Americans already know who they will vote for and they just look for confirmation. But the undecideds turn toward several factors, she says they look for something that could even be found Wednesday night.

"Not necessarily their leadership qualities but their character," said Kragh.

Voters we spoke with, hope to see Mitt Romney give specifics.

"If he says that he is interested in fixing the economy, I want to know how," said Collin McGhie, who plans to watch the debate.

"Being specific, really telling us what they plan to do and some detail," said Newsom.

"Romney will need to be very clear but very concise," said Kragh.

And Kragh says President Obama will need to explain why voters should re-elect him.

"He will probably have to answer to the criticism on his record and be just as specific and concise," said Kragh.

The debate will be at the University of Denver. It starts at 9:00 p.m. on ABC 13.