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Debates have begun in the 2022 midterm elections, and candidates in key races are taking the podium to exchange criticisms and policy views on the country's biggest issues.

In Georgia's Senate race, abortion and recent allegations against Republican challenger Herschel Walker took over the debate between him and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock last week. And in the state's gubernatorial race, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and challenger Stacey Abrams (D) also debated last week, with their differing views on voting rights and election integrity becoming a centerpiece of the discussion.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and challenger Charlie Crist (D) held their lone debate Monday night in the state's gubernatorial race, and traded viewpoints and criticisms on transgender issues, abortion, immigration and other matters. In the state's Senate race, incumbent Marco Rubio (R) and challenger Val Demings also debated, with inflation and affordability taking center stage.

And in Pennsylvania, the debate for the high-stakes Senate race between Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz (R) featured back-and-forth on fracking, abortion, and more, and gave way to further speculation across the political spectrum about Fetterman's health issues. More debates will be held over the next week, including a second debate between Abrams and Kemp. See full videos of the rest of the debates with this list from C-SPAN (Center bias).

As candidates display polarization in key races, new poll data suggests an equally polarized voting bloc. A recent NBC News (Lean Left bias) poll says that 80% of both Republicans and Democrats see the other party as "a threat that, if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it."

Media bias in debate coverage has followed typical partisan lines: left-rated sources tend to focus more on fact-checking and scrutinizing statements from Republican candidates, and right-rated outlets tend to do the same to Democrats. Voices on all sides wrote about whether debates remain a valuable tool for evaluating candidates if hyper-partisanship overtakes true discussion of issues.

More from AllSides:

Snippets from the Center  

Democrats in second-guessing mode after Fetterman-Oz Pennsylvania debate

The Hill (analysis)

"The state lieutenant governor’s auditory processing problems resulting from the stroke proved to be a major part of the debate just two weeks before Election Day. Fetterman had a number of awkward pauses and stumbles that are sure to be seized upon by the GOP. "

Are candidates debating less than they used to?
NewsNation (analysis)

"With the power of social media, candidates can reach voters more directly than ever before, and research suggests they may have little to gain from the time-honored format. Studies show televised debates have little to no impact on the decisions of individual voters. What impact they do have may come from candidates’ mistakes, rather than their successes."

Snippets from the Right

‘Don’t know why that’s so important’: Hochul baffled when Zeldin talks jailing criminals during NY gov debate

New York Post

"Hochul’s startling comments came moments before she refused to answer when Zeldin asked what she would do to address pay-to-play corruption allegations against her and her administration. Amid what recent polls show has turned into an increasingly tight race, Zeldin said that 'all these stories' were among the reasons why Hochul 'has lost the trust of so many New Yorkers.'"

With Limitations On Display in Lone Debate, Fetterman Refuses to Release Medical Records

Washington Free Beacon (analysis)

"Departing from moderators’ questions, Oz called on Fetterman to apologize for a 2013 incident in which Fetterman, as mayor of Braddock, Pa., pulled a shotgun on an unarmed black jogger. Fetterman declined, saying in a jumbled reply that residents of Braddock 'understood what happened and everybody agreed that and nobody believes that is was about me making a split-second decision to defend our community as well.'"

Snippets from the Left  

'How Dare You': Mike Lee Confronted Over Jan. 6 Scheme In Senate Debate


"Evan McMullin, the independent candidate for Senate in Utah, confronted incumbent Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Monday over his role in the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the rivals’ Senate debate. Text messages from Lee to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows revealed how Lee helped push legally dubious schemes to keep then-President Donald Trump in power before shifting course and voting to certify the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021."

Actually, John Fetterman’s Debate Performance Was Fine

Slate (opinion)

"Many people who experience strokes end up with some level of disability—in fact it’s considered a leading cause of disability in the U.S. It’s possible that Fetterman will continue to struggle with processing, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a proxy for his cognition or thinking."

See more big stories from the past week.