I realized that these debates are really bad television. In good serial TV, each episode builds on what the viewer knows from past episodes and rewards the repeat viewer. Finely crafted TV is good enough to suck in new viewers without being boring to repeat viewers. These debates -- and probably presidential campaigns in general -- are REALLY BAD TV.
They just repeat the same things over and over... "he voted present," "he's going to raise your taxes," "use a scapel instead of a hatchet," "he started his campaign in a terrorist's living room," etc.
This does not reward the repeat viewer AT ALL.
Tony Soprano for President!