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October 22, 2012

A Debate Solely for Foreign Policy Is Ridiculous

Posted in: Foreign Policy

Foreign policy is important and the presidential candidates should be asked questions about it, but to entirely dedicate one of only three presidential debates to the subject is radically out step what the concerns of the electorate. During a time of serious economic hardship foreign policy, as it has been traditionally narrowly defined in Washington, is simply not what regular Americans care about.

If you look at every poll about voters concerns you will find that foreign policy relate issues barely register with voters. Gallup recently ask Americans what they think is the top problem facing the country and 63 percent said the economy/jobs. All seven of the top answers were related to domestic policy. In total only nine percent of Americans choose foreign policy related issue. From Gallup:


Most importantly, the NBC/WSJ poll last month directly ask voters what is the most important to them when it comes to selecting a president. Overwhelming the top issue was the economy at 46 percent. In total 90 percent said a domestic policy concern while by comparison just 7 percent of voters said a foreign policy issue would be most important in their presidential selection.

Given how relatively unimportant foreign policy concerns are to regular voters this election, it is frankly ridiculous that the final presidential debate would be solely dedicated to it.

Foreign policy questions were already asked in the second presidential debate and they dominated the Vice Presidential debate. When all the debates are over it is likely about 40 to 50 percent of the debate time will have been spent on foreign policy, even though they are a top concern for significantly less than 10 percent of voters.

The over emphasis on foreign policy, like the heavy focus on the deficit by the debate moderators, is a dramatic display of how the Washington media conversation is remarkably disconnected from what the actual voters care about.

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