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By the numbers: Presidential and vice presidential debates

By Amy Roberts, CNN Library
updated 4:13 PM EDT, Wed October 3, 2012
  • 2: Elections in which the TV debates appeared to affect the outcome
  • 12: times Jim Lehrer from PBS has served as the moderator including 2012
  • 3: Election cycles between the first series of televised presidential debates and the second

(CNN) -- The first of four debates -- three presidential and one vice presidential -- in the final month of the election takes place October 3 in Denver. While we would love to tell you what will happen, the CNN Crystal Ball is out of order. Instead, our best guess of what to expect comes from debates past. Here's a look back, by the numbers, of the trends and surprises of past debates.

61: Percent of households that watched the third debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon on October 13, 1960.

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12: Times Jim Lehrer from PBS has served as the moderator, including 2012.

4: Debates with more than two debaters. When Ross Perot ran as a third-party Independent candidate in 1992, he and running mate James Stockdale participated in the debates with Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, and Al Gore and Dan Quayle.

3: Election cycles in between the first series of televised debates in 1960 to the next series, in 1976.

59: Percent of likely voters who said in an ORC/CNN poll that they thought President Barack Obama would do a better job in the upcoming debates.

34: Percent of likely voters who answered that Mitt Romney would do a better job.

7: Debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858. Though Lincoln and Douglas were vying for the U.S. Senate when they held their series of debates in Illinois in 1858, the issues they addressed -- including slavery -- were central to the presidential election two years later, in which both ran and which Lincoln won.

0: Percent difference in likely voters' answers in the same poll in 2008, when the candidates were Obama and John McCain.

1: Times a candidate has been told he was "no Jack Kennedy," as Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle during the vice presidential debate in 1988.

4: Number of times a televised presidential debate has been hosted in St. Louis, Missouri -- the most of any city.

12: Number of times Al Gore audibly sighed during the first debate with George W. Bush, on October 3, 2000.

1: Times President George H. W. Bush visibly checked his watch during the October 15, 1992, debate against Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

8: Number of female moderators since 1960, including CNN's Candy Crowley this year, on October 16.

2: Number of female debaters since 1960, vice presidential candidates Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008.

2: Elections where the outcome appeared to be affected by the televised debates: 1960 and 2000, according analysis by Gallup.

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