You already know the most famous example of TV influencing a debate: Nixon sweating under the heatlamps, looking browbeaten, unpresidential, while squaring off against Kennedy. But even that touchstone might be something of an American political folktale. So with a new pair of candidates set to face each other down tonight, it's worth wondering what, if any, effect TV has on debates. However you feel about the candidates, one thing's for sure: Your opinion is a flip-flopper.
Consider "the worm," that little audience-feedback EKG you might have seen from other debates or events.
The line is a measurement of audience engagement and approval, going up or down depending on feedback from the crowd. It's an interesting idea--we don't even have to wait until the debate is over to tell our candidates what we think--but the problem is, it's a bad representation of what we actually think. In a 2011 study, researchers decided to rig the worm. They took 150 voters and exposed them to it during a UK election debate. Gordon Brown got a bump in positive feedback for one group, Nick Clegg in another, and David Cameron didn't get any kind of a bump. That line on the screen was enough to change perceptions of winners, and even enough to change who they intended to vote for.
In another study, reminiscent of the Nixon-Kennedy legend, researchers studied attitudes of HDTV-owners toward candidates in the second debate of the 2008 election. They found that viewers reacted more negatively to John McCain than Barack Obama, and even freely cited McCain's age as a negative factor. On a regular TV, presentation matters, too: Yet another study found that a split-screen view of the debate (versus a full-screen view) made viewers more likely to value party affiliation in their choices, but also to rely "less on pre-existing notions when forming opinions of the debated issue."
If you're the type that favors media brainwashing-conspiracy theories, you could while away plenty of afternoons counting the ways television can be used to change opinions on political debates. But there's a big difference between opinions shifting and the results of an entire election shifting. The person the public crowns the winner of the debates isn't necessarily going to end up taking the oath of office. As Journalist's Resource points out, debates are, charitably, not all that important. (The site also has a curated list of these studies and others related to it.) They're not the only ones, either: The New York Times' Nate Silver culled the data and ruled that debates have "a modest impact," while a recent Washington Monthly story was much warier of debates being "gamechangers." It wouldn't be unfair to say the consensus is this: TV can change opinions on debates, but at best, debates only move the needle a small amount.
No need to adjust your set.
Answer to the question without reading the article; NO!
No. It's like watching your favorite sports team in a championship game. You will cheer them on even if they make mistakes and falter, but you don't switch sides.
After reading the article:
Television definition, choice of imagery, and soundbites do have a tendency to sway the weaker parts of the masses on a psychological level beneath the surface, but so does a flashy commercial and a suave tagline. These studies are tantamount to the aspect of determining what individuals are psychologically stimulated after watching any movie with Vin Diesel in it.
As for the relevance of debates in campaigns, it's useless entertainment for people to engage in (like a Fast and Furious movie). The reason debates don't make or break an election is because when leading a country, you don't have to be good at arguing, you have to be right. Moreso, you have to get people to buy into whether you're right or not.
That being said I can say I do enjoy Vin Diesel movies and I like all the Fast and Furious films (save for Tokyo Drift; Han was the only likeable character and he died; love Nathalie Kellie though) and other entertainment on similar levels as such, just as I enjoy a good debate.
This might tarnish my image in the eyes of others, but if you like watching political debates you are in the same category with people who like other forms of mindless dribble entertainment.
Apparently, how a candidate looks plays a big factor in some people's choice to vote. I however KNEW who I would be voting for over a year ago, so no, watching a debate in HD is not going to have any influence on me at all.
Frankly, in this day and age I think "Debates" like this are a waste of time. Who DOESN'T have access to literally hundreds of sources of information about the candidates, the policies, their records, and so on.
Who is really sitting on the fence so closely that ONE debate is going to swing them one way or the other?
50 years ago before the internet and 100's of cable channels, sure, debates mattered because where else were you going to get an idea of what the candidates were like. But now, it's just downright silly.
Displayed clarity of ugly, has no effect on my decision of who is the better candidate.
Despite who is elected, the reality of the outcome is still grim for the USA citizen to solve the budget, social security and Medicare. This problem was develop by the power\greedy no backbone politicians for the last 50 years and cannot be solving by this president or the next. The ability to fix this problem is going to cut deep into the USA citizen’s tax payer’s pocket, regardless.
This situation is f##k up and caused by our elected leaders.
Side note, if their spouses find them attractive, I would think that is enough in life.
That may be true Robot and Pheonix, but does that excuse the fact that this is not science? Sure, study about the way people think because something looks god. A jewelry store could have told us as much. But the real part you need to know is the reactions, and the stance on certaine issues. This is Washington, not Hollywood.
Side note, the distinction is narrowing, sadly.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you
I suppose of you are PoPSCi and squint your eyes, bend your ears, stand on one foot and be chewing some gum, to look at this from a different perspective, this is political science and the above people in this article are popular, so for ratings sake of PoPSCi, they wrote about it.
Robot, political science? Do you wokr for PopSci? Thats legitimizing, not science. Political science is just a better way of saying Politics.
And I hate gum.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
My first sentence above was poorly written. I was actually referring to PoPSCi ( no you ) looking at this from a odd ball political science article, force to be made public on their website do to the popularity of the candidates.
Yes, I do not care for gum too, lol.