Discussing candidates’ strengths and weaknesses in the season of debates

    In our weekly conversation with Frank Newport, editor in chief of The Gallup Poll, the topic is the presidential debates. To what extent can debates change the course of a race?

    Both candidates took great pains to stress the extent that their vision would best help the middle class. Do Americans think that Obama or Romney would do a better job for the middle class if elected?

    Some conservative critics opine that the polls have been flawed because there are “too many Democrats” or that they “oversample” Democrats. Newport calls this bogus talk.

    Job creation is a major focus of both candidates. Newport says U.S. nongovernment workers reported worse job creation conditions in September than they have in any month since February. At the same time, the job creation climate within state and local government became even more positive. What does this mean?

    The numbers also tell us that the average American has much more confidence in him- or herself than in the legislative branch of government. Newport says this suggests people don’t think the legislative branch is doing a very good job representing their interests — and that leaders should pay attention to polls.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.