Experience debate for yourself
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 14:10
The last of the presidential debates between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney airs 8 p.m. today before throngs of voters head to the polls during early voting and on Election Day Nov. 6.
Government Professor Wanda Lee Smith said the debates are more important to undecided voters than those who have already made up their minds on which candidate they’re voting for.
Dr. Paul Wilson, social sciences and humanities chair, said many viewers rely on news coverage of the debates to interpret candidates’ views on issues including education, foreign affairs and the economy before deciding who they will choose.
News organizations may highlight issues that are important to other voters rather than what you believe is important.
Rather than relying on news organizations to explain candidates’ messages, experience the debate first-hand — watch it on television, listen to it on the radio or read a transcript.
Radio and written text provide an unfiltered view of messages without the impact of candidates’ delivery style and body language.
The first televised presidential debate between Sen. John F. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Vice President Richard Nixon on Sept. 26, 1960, demonstrated the power of media influence.
Viewers saw a calm, cool and tanned newcomer and a nervous, pale incumbent, which impacted how people voted that November.
Voters who listened to the debate on the radio and concentrated on the content of the debate thought Nixon won. TV viewers reacted positively to the charisma of the younger, handsome Kennedy and pegged him the winner.
Ultimately, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote and 303 electoral votes.
Footage and transcripts of the debates are available at www.2012presidentialelectionnews.com/2012-debate-schedule.
No one candidate is perfect, so it’s up to you to get the most clear and accurate information before deciding on who is best to lead the country.