From what I heard last night’s Lehigh Valley Democratic Gubernatorial forum was a total waste of time if you were trying to compare the candidates’ actual positions on things.
The way they set it up, there were a few different issues tables, and the candidates would go around to each of the tables for 15 minutes to talk about that issue.
That’s fine, sort of, if you’re a single issue voter. But most people aren’t, and what they need is to compare the candidates’ responses to successive questions, and follow-up questions. Moderator asks a specific question about an issue, then you hear each candidate’s response to it, to get a sense of how they differ, then you have another round of follow-up questions to provoke more debate.
I understand why the candidates wouldn’t want to actually debate debate each other, but it shouldn’t be up to them. Organizers should consolidate a few of these “forums” and hold an honest-to-goodness debate, out in western PA where people are trying to reach voters, and create an event the candidates can’t afford to refuse.
We can’t keep having these forums where we hear only stump speeches and boilerplate responses to issue questions we already know the answers to. That Sustainability Forum a couple weeks ago only asked questions that candidates were already on the record with answers for. Folks need to use this process to get candidates on the record with stuff we don’t know their answers to, and get some real comparison action going.
Stop trying to reinvent the wheel with these forum formats. There’s a reason the traditional debate format has been used for decades – it’s a great way to compare candidates on the issues.