Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo shared insights on the role of television in presidential debates
Sixty years ago, CBS Chicago hosted the first presidential debate ever televised. It turned out to be a pivotal night in the race between Vice President Richard M. Nixon and U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy. It also really illustrated the role of TV in presidential debates.
Historically, televised presidential debates have helped voters decide on which candidate they planned to cast a vote for on a ballot. But, by 2016, polls found only 10 percent of voters said the debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton helped them make up their minds.
Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, interviewed with CBS 2 Chicago on this topic ahead of the first 2020 presidential debate.
“In other words, we have lots of opportunities to see these candidates through social media, through websites to 24-hour news TV, and that wasn’t the case in the 1970s, 1980s, and even in the 1990s,” Caliendo said.
And this year, polls show the vast majority of Americans have already decided who’s getting their vote.
“But remember that the goal isn’t only to persuade undecided voters,” Caliendo said. “The goal is also is to energize people who are supportive of one of the other candidates.”