Posted by: Jack | July 28, 2007

CNN YouTube Debate

I don’t think it would be an overstatement to claim that this debate mark the start of a revolution in the electoral system.  I say this for two reasons.

Traditional presidential debates involve a series of questions asked not necessarily by politicians, but by people who are at least heavily involved in politics. These questions generally confront the issues which a majority of citizens are curious about but are not asked in the language of a layperson. The CNN YouTube Debates presented candidate positions on relevant issues but their responses were prompted by simple conversational questions which everyone can understand. The best result of these direct questions was that viewers had a far easier time recognizing candidates’ attempts to “dodge” the issue. As an added bonus, some of the questions were asked by individuals who would be directly influenced by policy decisions related to their question: ill persons asking about health care, lesbians asking about gay marriage, anyone asking about Iraq, etc.

The second and more important reason I believe that a revolution has begun is that the debates were extremely successful. And by successful I mean that a large number of people who generally would not take the time to watch a traditional debate (myself included historically) were far more inclined to view this show. It would have been difficult to browse the web over the past couple weeks without coming across some sort of promotion for the debates. The entire show has now been broken into individual questions which can be watched by everyone on their own schedule. Voters can easily watch only the responses which pertain to subjects they care about most. So getting back to the point, the success of this format will undoubtedly lead to it’s continued use and I’m willing to bet that it will have a noticeable effect on voter turn out. This may be hard to prove given that the current administration–more specifically, the general disapproval of that administration–will likely improve voter turn out as well.

To watch the debates yourself, click here.



  1. I watched them, and I really agree with you. It was an interesting format, and at times it really seemed to put the politicians off their normal stride, which I think is important. You could see some of them thrive, and some of them seem uncomfortable….Plus I think debates have been limited in the past because they took up so much “valuable” prime time TV, and like you said, in this format people can watch whenever they have time and no precious primetime is lost ;)…

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