ERIC Number: ED204820
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Form and Substance: A Comparative Analysis of the 1980 Presidential Debate Formats.
Hellweg, Susan A.; Phillips, Steven L.
Noting that the format imposed upon a debate can affect the presentation of information provided to audiences and that presidential campaign debates have become a significant event in the election process, this paper contends that it is important to analyze various formats and to consider carefully formats that are developed for future encounters of this kind. Specifically, the paper offers a comparative analysis of the formats of all seven 1980 presidential debates--the Republican primary debates held in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Illinois, and Texas, and the two Democratic-Republican postconvention debates held in Maryland and Ohio. Based on this analysis, the paper offers the following recommendations: (1) the events need to be designed so as to minimize the involvement of panelists beyond what is necessary to pose propositions; (2) panelists should be discouraged from using intimidating or multi-faceted questions, using instead short, simple, direct questions; (3) the informal format can provide the least opportunity for a candidate to hide or to evade or ignore complex issues; (4) a formal structure offers a candidate assurance of equal speaking opportunities with his or her opponents; and (5) allowing the moderator to introduce various propositions formulated in advance is a way of improving debate format. (FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Debate Formats; Presidential Campaigns; Presidential Candidates
Note: Paper presented at the Conference on Culture and Communication (San Diego, CA, February 1981).