The Indiana Republican Party is holding a presidential debate watch party Wednesday as President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney take the stage in Denver.
The state Democratic Party will likely host an event for the second debate. Party officials and political analysts say the local events are about more than just watching the debates.
State Republican Party spokesman Pete Seat says the debate parties are a great way to connect with friends and fellow Republicans and experience the debates in a community setting. He says from the party’s standpoint, it is also a chance to recruit volunteers.
“Dedicate and devote some hours to volunteer efforts, to making phone calls, to knocking on doors, to reaching out to their friends and their family and folks in their neighborhood to encourage them to vote for their candidate or their party of choice,” he says.
Franklin College journalism school director John Krull says generating the kind of excitement and turnout the state had in 2008, with a competitive presidential race, will be more difficult this year, with most polls showing Romney with a significant lead in Indiana.
“You’re not going to see quite the same energy,” he says. “Basically, the president hasn’t come to Indiana and Republican candidates seem to come here only to raise money and then take off.”
Obama and Romney will face off in three debates over the coming weeks, while the vice presidential candidates will debate once.