Lynn political expert predicts pod topics for first and third presidential debates

Expected topics for the third debate include instability in the “Arab Spring” countries, the war in Afghanistan, and the larger threat of terrorism

Published Sep. 18, 2012

Robert Watson, B.S., M.P.A., Ph.D.As both moderators Jim Lehrer and Bob Schieffer have hosted presidential debates before, Lynn has studied their past performances and other moderated debates to predict the soon-to-be announced pod topics for both debates.

"It's no secret that a single mishap during the debates could doom a candidate (Gerald Ford on Soviet domination during the 1976 debates), and a well-timed, well-delivered one-liner can score the candidate extra points (Ronald Reagan on his age during the 1984 debates)," said Robert Watson, political expert and professor of American Studies in Lynn University's College of Liberal Education.

As they have done before, Lehrer and Schieffer will ask the candidates about the topics that poll as the most important policy issues of the day.

The first debate held Wednesday, Oct. 3 at the University of Denver, focuses on domestic policy and, according to Watson, involves six main topics. Lehrer will predictably ask about the economy, specifically about plans for creating jobs, addressing high unemployment and getting the deficit and debt under control. Other domestic issues currently polling high among the public include healthcare, the future of Medicare and immigration.

The third and final debate, to take place on Oct. 22 at Lynn, will be dedicated to foreign policy issues. "It too involves six main topics," said Watson. "Schieffer can be expected to ask about plans to end the war in Afghanistan, the larger threat of terrorism, instability in the 'Arab Spring' countries, the recent and deadly attacks on American embassies, the new tension in Asia and immigration."

More on Watson

Robert Watson is a professor of American Studies at Lynn University.

  • Areas of expertise: presidents, first ladies, elections and campaigns, Florida politics, congress
  • Brief bio: Watson is one of the foremost experts and authors on U.S. presidents and elections. He has published 34 books and hundreds of articles and chapters and is a frequent media commentator for national as well as international outlets.