ERIC Number: ED249555
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Political Debate Formats: A State-of-the-Art Review.
Hellweg, Susan A.
To examine political debate formats with regard to past usage and future possibilities, an analysis was made of the format features of the 1960, 1976, and 1980 general election presidential debates. Also analyzed were the formats used in the primary debates for Democratic presidential candidates in 1976 and for the Republican presidential candidates in 1980. The impact of these formats was assessed in terms of the ability of the candidates to convey their political positions on campaign issues, refute the arguments of their opponents, and generate their own agendas. The analysis revealed that the rigidity and structure of the general election debates of 1960, 1976, and 1980 were in line with the importance of the bipartisan electoral events with which they were associated. The Democratic and Republican primary debates seemed to have had the luxury of being more flexible, experimental, and informal. Ironically, there was less potential for confrontation between candidates in the primary debates because of party commonality, although the unstructured formats offered a greater degree of confrontation through their informality and lack of rigidity. Findings suggest that the attempt to achieve equity for the participating candidates and their reluctance to experiment with formats, preferring rather to stay with established structures, have contributed to the lack of great variability among past formats, except at the local and primary levels. (Appended is a table depicting the presidential primary and general election debate formats.) (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Debate Formats; Political Communication; Presidential Debates
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (68th, Louisville, KY, November 4-7, 1982).