Doug Rutherford

Home » Election » A Few Simple Rules for Candidate Forums

A Few Simple Rules for Candidate Forums

April 2011
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As of Friday evening, half of the all candidate forums for theYukon election are over. At that point, Bringing Youth Toward Equality (BYTE) sponsored a forum on youth-related issues and raising the profile of politics for those least likely to vote.

Having attended both of these forums, I can’t help but notice a few points that candidates should consider in the last half of the campaign.


Statistical arguments do have a place in this world, but these deal with making reference to specific data. When you do this, you should be doing it with definite figures from your notes that relate exactly to the situation at hand. Sadly, 74.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot. For example, one candidate stated in the last forum that less than 60% of eligible Yukoners voted in the last election. That is actually the national figure. About 64% of eligible voters in the territory did make it to the polls. Also, another candidate suggested that theUS deficit now stood at $1 trillion. It’s actually expected to be $1.5 trillion. When you get to talking about trillions of dollars, 0.5 does have some meaning.


If you really know your party platform, you will have something to actually say when answering questions. If you’re really sure of the party message, you will be able to explain these concepts without buzz words or obviously politicizing your responses. Stating that the only way to be sure that something will happen is to vote you in as a candidate and giving your party a majority government was not the proper answer for any of the questions asked in either Thursday’s or Friday’s forum. Answer the question directly and you may find the voters will respond.

Your Train of Thought

An all candidates forum is like a job interview. The job you are interviewing for is one requiring excellent public speaking skills and the ability to present a cogent argument. Being well prepared and knowing what specifics your party has in mind to deal with issues should keep your train of thought from derailing.


Everyone knows that the parties plant questioners at these events. If your communications director doesn’t do this, you may need a new one. Despite this, polite conduct does suggest that plants are supposed to make an effort to be subtle. When a) someone shows up for the youth forum wearing a suit, b) starts the question with a partisan shot at the incumbent and, c) asks a candidate, by his first name, to list why his policy is so superior, the rules of subtlety have fallen away.

When more than 74.2% of the audience roll their eyes at the question, a few more acting lessons should have been called for…


1 Comment

  1. Dave Rogers says:

    Whoopsie! Mixed up debt and deficit. The US debt is 14 trillion and change. The annual deficit is a measly few hundred billion.

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