Trump-Clinton debate expected to shatter records

Daily News Article - September 23, 2016


[NOTE:  Check out Student News Daily's Presidential Election Page, which includes a Presidential Debate Worksheet for students.]

1. a) When is the first presidential debate? (date, time, place, how/where to watch)
b) How many viewers are possible, according to experts interviewed by The Hill?

2. Why would such a large number of viewers be so significant? (see para. 2-3)

3. How would 100 million compare to the final episode of MASH? to the 2016 Super Bowl? the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show?

4. What does The Hill reporter credit for the huge audience for the first debate between Clinton and Trump?

5. In paragraph 11 the reporter states: “It’s not just Trump who is driving interest. This is also the first presidential debate to pit a male candidate against a female candidate as Democrat Hillary Clinton seeks to become the first woman to be elected president.”
Do you think record breaking viewership would be predicted if Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz was the Republican nominee debating first woman nominee Hillary Clinton? Explain your answer.

6. What can you conclude about factors affecting debate viewership from the following information?
--In 2004, the first debate between President George W. Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry brought in 62.5 million viewers.
--In 2008, the first debate between the first African-American presidential nominee Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain brought in 52.4 million viewers.
--The first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012 brought in 67.2 million viewers. No first round debate has hit that high of a number since President Jimmy Carter went up against Republican candidate Ronald Reagan in 1980 for 80.6 million viewers.

7. Jeff McCall, a professor of media studies, thinks viewership for this debate will be huge because “Viewers sense the potential for drama and the unpredictable.”
Communications professor Paul Levinson thinks that social media will drive even more people to the contest. “The reason, of course, is the extraordinary interest in this presidential election, featuring two unprecedented and highly controversial candidates,” he said. “The first woman [to be nominated by a major party] versus someone with zero political experience or government service.”
a) For what reasons do Dave Briggs and Chad Wilkinson say the debate will not get the enormous record-breaking viewership the others predict?
b) Do you think Briggs and Wilkinson are correct? Explain your answer.

8. a) Many Americans develop their perceptions of a debate based on news coverage following the debate. How important do you think it is for voters to watch the debate themselves and come to their own conclusions about the candidates? Explain your answer.
b) In addition to watching debates, what else should voters do to learn about the candidates?