September 30, 2012 by amerciagazette
As we approach the first ever Amercia Presidential debate, I thought it appropriate to give you a little history on the topic of debates. While most voters now have come to expect that debates are a part of the political process, this has not always been the case.
The first presidential debate in the USA was held in 1960. The candidates were John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Television (black & white) was gaining popularity in the home and this media allowed the candidates a captive audience to distribute their message to. The power of the images on the screen gave the voters a different view of the candidates like never before. Previously, radio speeches were the vehicle for information dissemination from the candidates.
A little known fact of this debate was that Nixon had the flu and came to the debate anyway. (That may explain his profuse sweating on stage, or was it the pressure that JFK was applying?) Nixon lost the debate according to the polls and also lost the election. Could it be because of the debate? Some say yes!
The next presidential debate did not come until 1976 when the candidates were Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Television had come a long way into color images. The candidates felt that they could master this medium and effectively gain the voters support. Especially Gerald Ford, who needed to gain popular support of the voters after pardoning Richard Nixon from the Watergate scandal that lead to his impeachment. Presidential debates have happened every election since then.
Candidates in2012 have a plethera of tools and media to reach voters with.
“The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”
-Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson, 1956
“Television is no gimmick, and nobody will ever be elected to major office again without presenting themselves well on it.”
-Television producer and Nixon campaign consultant Roger Ailes, 1968
In a media-saturated environment in which news, opinions, and entertainment surround us all day on our television sets, computers, and cell phones, the television commercial remains the one area where presidential candidates have complete control over their images. Television commercials use all the tools of fiction film-making, including script, visuals, editing, and performance, to distill a candidate’s major campaign themes into a few powerful images. Ads elicit emotional reactions, inspiring support for a candidate or raising doubts about his opponent. While commercials reflect the styles and techniques of the times in which they were made, the fundamental strategies and messages have tended to remain the same over the years.
The Living Room Candidate contains more than 300 commercials, “from every presidential election since 1952, when Madison Avenue advertising executive Rosser Reeves convinced Dwight Eisenhower that short ads played during such popular TV programs as I Love Lucy would reach more voters than any other form of advertising. This innovation had a permanent effect on the way presidential campaigns are run.”
Images and messages can be positive or negative. Obama used this video in July, 2012 to be aired during the Olympics. It has a very positive tone.
Romney’s commercial from July, 2012 –
How are TV ads viewed by the candidates? What effects do they perceive to have on voters? Watch this video for fact checking and campaign spending on TV ads by Romney and Obama.
The message of this post is to convey to our candidates of Amercia is that getting your voice heard is key. With the use of YouTube videos, twitter messaging, Facebook pages, and numerous other social media outlets (including bloggers) can only make you stronger. You cannot control all of the output or the perception of the voters, but if you are not present with the media you have already lost the election.
Our best wishes for success to all of the candidates in the upcoming debate. We are still conducting the “In Their Own Voice” interviews if any candidates wish to be “heard” literally.
That’s all for now, but stay tuned to the Amercia Gazette, “Bringing you the NEW News of Amercia”.