This evening's town hall-style debate, we're told, will be different. An intimate setting. Direct interaction with the common voter. The potential for curve-ball questions. While audiences might not relate to the presidential candidates or the media, moderator Candy Crowley told CNN, "they do relate to 80 people sitting on a stage that look like them, and maybe have stories similar to theirs.... And I think that's where a candidate has to make a connection."
I'm all for the civic engagement that town-hall style debates promote, of course. But since Tuesday night's forum will feature domestic and foreign policy questions, it's worth noting that Americans have some astonishing misconceptions about international affairs (for more on how Americans view foreign policy, check out this great Carnegie Endowment/Pew Research Center infographic).
As the Washington Post's Dylan Matthews explained last month, the baffling fact that 15 percent of Ohio Republicans believe Mitt Romney deserves more credit than Barack Obama for killing Osama bin Laden may have as much to do with polling psychology and sampling error as with self-delusion or ignorance. But here are some other statistics that may surprise you:
OK, so tonight's town hall participants probably won't bust out a world map to make a point or ask the candidates why they've never acknowledged Saddam's role in 9/11. But a reference to China's economic leadership or Iran's nuclear weapons stockpile certainly isn't out of the question.
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