George Farah on Presidential Debates

September 24, 2004

According to campaign expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson, contrary to popular belief, the amount of negative campaigning in speeches and debates remains relatively low. What have changed however, are the viewing habits of the American public when it comes to presidential debates. In 1960, over 66 million people watched the first televised debate out of a total population of 178 million. Even in 1980, the numbers were high, with over 80 million watching the debate between Reagan and Carter. But since then even as the population has swelled to over 294 million, the numbers have slipped, with only 46.6 million watching the first debate in 2000, and nearly 10 million less watching the second and third debates. NOW invites you to explore the history of presidential debates and to discover how the Commission on Presidential Debates works.


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