Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Televised presidential debates help moderates choose candidates

Date:
November 7, 2013
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Televised presidential debates have been a staple of the political landscape for more than 50 years. Recent political commentary has focused on the release of a tell-all book outlining the painstaking presidential debate preparation both sides experienced during the 2012 electoral cycle. Now, researchers have determined that televised presidential debates do have important consequences on the attitudes of those who view them -- specifically among apathetic or ambivalent voters.

Televised presidential debates have been a staple of the political landscape for more than 50 years. Starting in 1960 with John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, debates have influenced popular opinion and have swayed voters in every election cycle since. Recent political commentary has focused on the release of a tell-all book outlining the painstaking presidential debate preparation both sides experienced during the 2012 electoral cycle and how those debates helped sway potential votes. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that televised presidential debates do have important consequences on the attitudes of those who view them -- specifically among apathetic or ambivalent voters.

Related Articles


"Viewing debates significantly increased polarization among those who go into the debate with very little candidate preference or attitude and have no strong opinions either way," said Ben Warner, assistant professor of communication who studies political conversation at MU. "The good thing is we feel that moderates make up the group of voters that needs to shift toward one candidate or another."

Data for this study were compiled from potential voters who viewed 12 presidential debates in the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections as well as the vice-presidential debates in 2008 and 2012. Those surveyed were asked their political attitudes pre- and post-debate. Most of those surveyed who had already chosen a candidate tended to stay the same; however, researchers found that after viewing presidential debates apathetic or ambivalent voters tended to have the highest shift in opinion leading them to gravitate toward one candidate. Additionally, these trends held no matter the outside influence, including the changing media landscape, personal social networks and even individual personality traits.

"Despite the white noise of social networks and media, debates truly do make a difference because they are the single biggest electoral event with the largest audience. Because both sides have equal time to make their cases, debates are the most balanced message voters receive over the course of a campaign," Warner said. "If debates move more moderates into the conversation and help get them more engaged in the political process that's a positive thing because it dilutes the vitriol usually associated with the electoral conversation."

Warner co-authored the study, "To unite and divide: the polarizing effect of presidential debates," with Mitchell McKinney, associate professor in the Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Science at MU. The article appeared in the journal Communications Studies in October 2013.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Benjamin R. Warner, Mitchell S. McKinney. To Unite and Divide: The Polarizing Effect of Presidential Debates. Communication Studies, 2013; 64 (5): 508 DOI: 10.1080/10510974.2013.832341

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Televised presidential debates help moderates choose candidates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107094702.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2013, November 7). Televised presidential debates help moderates choose candidates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107094702.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Televised presidential debates help moderates choose candidates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107094702.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) — A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) — Much of the Disneyland measles outbreak is being blamed on the anti-vaccination movement. The CDC encourages just about everyone get immunized. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tim Cook Made 8 Times Less Than Another Apple Exec In 2014

Tim Cook Made 8 Times Less Than Another Apple Exec In 2014

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) — Tim Cook&apos;s total compensation more than doubled in 2014 to $9.2 million, but his pay was still less than four other Apple executives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dramatic Footage Shows Coast Guard Rescue Off Scottish Coast

Dramatic Footage Shows Coast Guard Rescue Off Scottish Coast

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — Footage just released by the UK Coast Guard shows a dramatic helicopter rescue off the Scottish coast, where five men were plucked to safety after their fishing boat sank on Saturday. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins