Too many 2012 debates? There were just as many four years ago

CNN is hosting another Republican debate, the eighth of the 2012 campaign cycle and CNN's third, on Tuesday night in Las Vegas. Late Monday, CNN announced that yet another Republican debate--one focused on national security and foreign policy--would be scheduled for Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C.

Even before CNN's latest entry to the debate calendar, political reporters, pundits and candidates were complaining of "debate fatigue"--despite the fact that the ratings for the cable networks that carry them have been on the rise.

"Presidential campaigns today are spending almost all their time dealing with debates," Mark McKinnon, a strategist for the Bush and McCain campaigns, told Politico last week. "It is killing their scheduling and altering the course of normal campaign activities."

But there are no more debates this year than there were four years ago. The 2012 debate cycle appears right on schedule--perhaps even lighter--when compared to 2008.

By this point in 2007, Republican candidates had participated in 10 debates, two more than have been held in 2011. (For Democrats, there had been 13.)

Some critics have pinpointed the debate fatigue to the five debates that have taken place since Labor Day. But the Republicans debated seven times in September and October four years ago, with three debates in September 2007, and four in October that year.

Right now, there are 13 more debates scheduled for the Republican presidential primaries, for a total of 21.

There were a total of 26 Democratic primary debates and 21 for the Republicans in the 2007-2008 presidential election cycle.

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