Wednesday night, about 40-million people tuned in to watch President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney duke it out in the first presidential debate of the 2012 election. These viewers watched and listened as Romney and Obama went back and forth about their plans for America and what the future would hold for the country if they were elected president. Obama continually talked about Romney’s supposed plan for a $5-trillion tax cut, and Romney responded with accusations that the president plans on increasing taxes. They argued over what the government’s role should be in health care and big business regulation. Numbers and dollar amounts were being thrown out left and right by both candidates, such as Romney claiming Obama’s $716-billion Medicare cut, or Obama claiming that approximately 5-million jobs have been created since he took office. But how many of these numbers are accurate — how much of what the candidates are saying is actually true?

In last night debate were numerous accusations that didn’t hold up after careful investigation. Now, the only reason I’m aware of this is because I’ve been following politics and the election, and because I tuned in after the debate on CNN to watch an analysis and fact-checking discussion. One claim put forth by Romney was that there are 23-million people out of work. Upon further research, it was discovered that this number isn’t completely correct. According to a fact check by the Chicago Tribune, Romney would’ve had to add together the number of unemployed people, the number of people who’re employed part-time but want to work full-time and people who’ve completely stopped looking for jobs. According to a breakdown by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in August, the number of officially unemployed people is 12.5 million — this is also where we get our figure of 8.1 percent unemployment among eligible workers.

In order for Romney’s claim to be accurate, he needed to say it was the number of unemployed or underemployed, an extremely misleading omission. Also, Romney’s claim that $716 billion would be cut from Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act is false, according to a fact check by USA Today. Romney’s claim that he wouldn’t cut taxes for the wealthy also turned out to be inaccurate. And according to USA Today and Chicago Tribune’s fact checks, Obamacare hasn’t actually reduced costs in health insurance yet.

So what do viewers of the debate walk away with when so many of the things the candidates claim about themselves, their opponents and their plans seem to be untrue? Well, for people who follow the election, keep up with politics, make sure to get all the information and tune into the fact checking, maybe they walk away with a mostly factual view of what’s going on. However, for the people who tuned into the debate with little prior knowledge of the political process, where the candidates stand and what they’ve done, they walk away with an inaccurate and falsified view of the candidates and their claims.

After the debate, a poll from CBS News revealed that support for Romney from undecided voters increased by 12 points, though other estimates are lower. During the debate, Romney shied away from his harsh, conservative view, which he has been running his entire campaign on, and adopted a more centrist attitude. However, for those who know nothing about Romney’s campaign thus far, this could result in completely inaccurate views of his policies, which have become more and more conservative. This affects the polls and could ultimately affect who wins the election.

The presidential debate is a dangerous thing for the uninformed. The sheer number of lies can have detrimental effects on people who don’t know enough about the election and are using the debate as their ultimate source of information about the candidates, policies that don’t align with their own.

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