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Inside the Presidential DebatesTheir Improbable Past and Promising Future$
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Newton N. Minow and Craig L. LaMay

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226530413

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226530390.001.0001

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How to Improve the Presidential Debates

How to Improve the Presidential Debates

(p.101) 6 How to Improve the Presidential Debates
Inside the Presidential Debates
University of Chicago Press

The 2008 presidential election was the first in fifty-six years—since Dwight D. Eisenhower ran against Adlai E. Stevenson in 1952—that American voters did not have a choice on their ballots that included a sitting president or vice president. The election occurred in the midst of a communications revolution in which more than 70 percent of American households had Internet access and 90 percent of Internet users were registered voters. They could get their news and political information from Web sites maintained by television and cable news organizations, candidates, political parties, advocacy groups, and non-partisan voter education groups. While the Internet has the potential to improve the character of U.S. politics by providing more and better-quality information to more people, Internet use by itself will not produce “better” democracy or “more informed” citizens, either in nation-states or globally. In this new media and political environment, one thing is certain: televised presidential debates are more important than ever before. This chapter offers five recommendations to make presidential debates more substantive and useful to voters.

Keywords:   televised presidential debates, Internet, politics, democracy, political information, Web sites, news, television

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