Or, at least they're a poor way for a voter to develop an opinion of the candidates running. They turn into more of a contest of who can sling out the most crowd pleasing lines, either by lame one-liners or by promising you the world and asking for nothing in return (see the hope and change message that Obama parroted back in '08). This is probably preaching to the choir for most of the posters on this board, but the most reliable way to get an accurate read on the candidates is to take the time to research their voting records. Yes, there is far less entertainment in looking up how Mitt Romney has voted on education bills when compared to watching Rick Perry's laughable on-stage gaffes, but we're talking about voting for the most powerful person in the world, not the next American Idol winner. Once again, to use Obama as an example, he didn't have much of political record to judge him by, which was my main concern about him more than any other factor when he ran last election (and is also my main concern for Herman Cain in this go-around). Another important factor to keep an eye on with candidates is how they're fundraising. Mainly, who is he/she going to be serving in office: You, or the CEO of Bank of America? While I can continue to wish that there was more transparency in how campaigns are raising their dough, there are indicators that can help answer the question above. Rick Perry, who was little-known outside of Texas this time last year, had millions of dollars in campaign donations lined up for him before he even declared his intention to run. I'm not sure the people of Texas love him THAT much. Compare that to the other Texan vying for the Republican nod, Ron Paul, who receives the large bulk of his funds through individual online donations. That, and the fact that major news networks typically try to shove him out of the spotlight, are heavy indicators that Paul's decisions as president would not be serving the interests of corporate America. Speaking of the media, and getting back to the point of the pointlessness of these primary debates, I will watch some of them for one reason; to get media's pulse regarding the race. Who are they trying to make look appealing to me? Who are they looking to dismantle? And yes, while there is a general trend in which the more popular candidates will likely be given more time to speak, I am of the opinion that candidates that go against this trend are doing so by divine intervention from the corporate gods.