Presidential debates happen among the contestants in the United States every term(four years) before the elections begin. Presidential election campaigns attract global attention since the elected candidate would influence the global politico-economic sphere. Though the presidential debates are constitutionally not mandated, the debates have become an integral part of the election process.
The recent presidential debates for the 2020 presidential elections between Donald Trump (incumbent President – Republican) and Joe Biden (Democrat) have been kicked off from 29th September 2020. The second and third debates will take place on 15th October and 22nd October respectively. Further, one debate between Vice-presidential candidates (Mike Pence and Kamala Harris) will take place on 7th October.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) would conduct the Presidential debates. It is a non-profit and non-partisan organisation established in 1987, operating Presidential debates since 1988. The function of commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is to sponsor the quadrennial general election debates and to engage in research and educational activities relating to the discussions.
The first Presidential debate took place between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy in 1960. The entire debate was televised that attracted many Americans, and the telecast influenced the voters in making a decision to elect their leader. Since then, the Presidential debates have emerged as a custom in the general election process.
The debates generally follow a format of addressing contemporary issues(both national and international) by sharing their agenda and solution from each contestant. The recent debate that took place on 29th September 2020 had discussions on coronavirus pandemic, racist attacks, economy and election integrity in the United States.
But today’s studies show that the debates aren’t as influential for voters as they were in the 20th century because of the instant transmission of information and news on digital and social media platforms. The policies of the Government and the opposition’s remarks over them are being publicised in no time.
Moreover, the voters with definite political ideologies cannot be affected by the Presidential debates as per the surveys. Debates can only impact those decisions of the voters that are unsure of who they are going to vote for. According to the Pew Research Centre, voters find the debates useful but not determinative. For example, in 2016, only 10% of voters said they had made up their minds “during or just after” the presidential debates.
The vice-presidential debates are considered less significant when compared to Presidential debates. For the election 2020, the new statistics should reveal the influence on voter’s decision making after the election in November.
Because of the pandemic situation with COVID-19, the elections are going to be even more interesting this year.
Did you know?
In 2016, 84 million watched the first presidential debate, which was a record in the United States television history.
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