Tomorrow night could mean everything to this Presidential election, or it could mean nothing at all. Polls around the country have this race in an absolute deadlock (those polls not using the faulty modeling from 2008) and so tonight could mean everything. Jimmy Carter was leading Reagan going into the debates and was swept out of office with one little “there you go again.”
While I watched this clip, I found it ironic that the very old and worn health care proposal that ultimately aided in Carter’s demise is actually more conservative than the overreaching and socialistic Obamacare.
The introduction of televised debates dramatically impacted the 1960 election as a poised and charismatic John Kennedy ran circles around the nervous and sweating Nixon. It became more about likeability than about substance.
It is not always the case that the debates have an impact on an election, but it is also not often the case that so much rides on the thoughts of so few. Roughly half of the country is ideologically committed to the Democrats and half to the Republicans – unlike many elections both sides have eschewed a “move to the middle” instead appealing directly to their bases. It is a very small slice in between that will determine the outcome of this election.
It has been very funny this week as each camp has tried to lower the bar for themselves and raise the bar of expectations for their opponent. “President Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker, and is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history,” gushed Beth Myers, one of Romney’s senior advisers. (Time) Not wanting to be outdone, President Obama himself praised Romney’s debating abilities “Governor Romney,” countered Obama in Las Vegas on Sunday night, “he’s a good debater. I’m just O.K.” (Time) Unfortunately everyone seems to just accept these ridiculous efforts to “set expectations” and just sighs “that’s politics.” I wish everyone would hold the campaigns more accountable, but Obama seems to get a free media pass on everything these days. I really think that this period of time will be viewed as the time an effective media as the vanguard to truth simply died.
What will be interesting to watch is the way that social media, like this blog, will increasingly influence voter decisions. The time of television as the primary media of mass communication is quickly dying increasingly replaced by a diffused network of other sources. Let’s see just how important tomorrow night is in this evolving tale of transitioning communication methods.