The advantages of modern presidential debates

In chapter 5 of Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate, authors Kathleen Jamieson and David Birdsell outline a number of advantages of  contemporary presidential debates:

  • Debates provide useful information to voters about the candidates’ issue preferences, priorities, and personalities. They build on information already present in the news and on campaign advertisements.
  • Research has shown that those who watch debates display a greater ability to identify important information about candidates and their platforms than those who don’t watch debates.
  • Debates often prompt potential voters to seek out additional information about candidates and issues after watching televised debates.
  • Debates encourage candidates to take specific issues and “engage the issues considered central by the other side” (pg 131).
  • Unless they attend candidate rallies, debates provide citizens with the opportunity to see candidates for nearly two hours – much more than the 30-60 seconds they get in ads of news sound bites.
  • Debates reveal the communication skills of presidential candidates, help get a glimpse of their personality traits, and how they perform in stressful situations. This can be helpful to help judge how a candidate would handle the tasks of the presidency.
  • Debates force candidates to make sure they know something about a wide range of important issues, better preparing them for office.
  • Debates provide opportunities for candidates to provide criteria by which their presidencies should be judged.

My next post will summarize the disadvantages of the modern presidential debate format.

One response to “The advantages of modern presidential debates

  1. Pingback: ¿Argentina debate o no debate? | Porteña Suburbana

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