Debates have always been about saying things in a certain way to make people agree with you. Facts are stated to help persuade your listeners to agree with you. However, at heart, a huge part of debates has been about how you present yourself as an individual; your appearance, how assertive you are, if you can keep a nice poise and look at your opponent directly, if you can keep calm and be dominant. All of these traits are key to a successful debate.
Now there are people out there who feel that Obama, in the first presidential debate, wasn't fully prepared. One might go so far as to say he seemed overwhelmed. Regardless of the reason, it hurt him for a while in the run for president. However, after the final debates, the results are still up in the air.
Antonio Thorm, Rocklin