In a 1988 debate against George H.W. Bush, Michael Dukakis's answer to a question about whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered is considered a huge stumble. LENNOX MCLENDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption toggle caption LENNOX MCLENDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS It's All Politics Presidential Debates Can Be Great Theater, But How Much Do They Matter? September 16, 2012 This fall's presidential debates could attract the largest viewing audience of any televised campaign event. But some political scientists say the three faceoffs between President Obama and Mitt Romney (and the sole vice presidential debate) probably won't change the outcome of the election.