For most people reacting to last week’s pres­i­den­tial debate, their first thought was prob­ably not about who made the best argu­ments or told the most truths. Rather it was likely deciding who won.

The answer this time around was unusu­ally defin­i­tive: Mitt Romney, by vir­tu­ally every account and measure.

But in pres­i­den­tial debates — and the vice pres­i­den­tial ver­sion, which takes place on Thursday — does there need to be a winner?

Alan Schroeder, a pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, says that the name “debate” nat­u­rally sug­gests a con­test. But Schroeder says that broad­cast net­works that tele­vised the first debate in 1960 never intended to estab­lish an atmos­phere of competition.

Read the article at NPR →