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WSU Newsline: Debates are opportunity to sway undecided voters
Thursday, September 27, 2012 9:00 AM

The scripts are available for printing and for sound bite identification.

Go to http://www.wichita.edu/newsline to get the current Wichita State University Newsline. If you cannot access the Newsline at the Web address above, contact Joe Kleinsasser at (316) 978-3013 or cell (316) 204-8266 or joe.kleinsasser@wichita.edu. Newsline cuts may be edited to suit your needs.

If you have additional questions for Jeff Jarman after listening to the WSU Newsline, please contact him at (316) 978-6075 or jeffrey.jarman@wichita.edu.

Background:
Get ready for an all-out brawl in several battleground states as President Obama and Mitt Romney try to woo voters during the presidential debates. Jeff Jarman, director of debate at Wichita State University, says the debate format will be significantly different and help voters see the differences better.

Voice wrap:
Announcer: To debate or not to debate is no longer the question when it comes to presidential candidates. While debates aren't constitutionally mandated, it is often considered part of the election process. Jeff Jarman, director of debate at Wichita State University, says the question nowadays isn't whether to debate, but how many?

Jarman: "The question now is not will there be debates, but how many debates? Challengers always want to debate and incumbents who are strong always want to limit the number of debates. But any candidate who tried not to debate, especially in a presidential campaign, would face serious repercussions from the public."

Announcer: Debates are broadcast live on television and radio. The first debate for the 1960 election drew more than 66 million viewers out of 179 million, making it one of the most-watched broadcasts in U.S. television history. According to Jarman, you can count on the fact that there will be memorable lines in these debates. The problem for the candidates is they don't know which ones those will be before the debates happen. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.

Sound bite #1
Jarman says the presidential debate format is significantly different this year. The sound bite is 19 seconds and the outcue is "adjusted for that."

Jarman: "They've changed the format this year to have extended discussions on more limited topics. So we'll see six, 15-minute discussions to try to give the candidates a better
opportunity to discuss important issues. The economy is so complicated. You can't fix the economy in 90 seconds, and the debates have adjusted for that."

Sound bite #2
Jarman says the new debate format will help voters who watch the debates. The sound bite is 13 seconds and the outcue is "watch the debates."

Jarman: "The extended discussion and the longer format will give voters a real opportunity to see the differences between the candidates. They have more time to explain true differences in their approaches, and that will benefit voters who watch the debates."

Sound bite #3
Jarman says regardless of the debate format, partisans think their candidate won the debate. The sound bite is 13 seconds and the outcue is "time for discussion."

Jarman: "Some caution is in order. Partisans, who make up the vast majority of viewers and voters, still overwhelmingly select their candidate as winning the debate, even when they have more extended time for discussion."

Sound bite #4
Jarman says undecided voters may be few in number, but they can make a big difference in the outcome of the election. The sound bite is 13 seconds and the outcue is "outcome of the election."

Jarman: "So, even though undecided voters make up a small portion of the electorate, in our close elections where there are several key states, those undecided voters can make a big difference in the outcome of the election."

Sound bite #5
Jarman says there are advantages and disadvantages for the incumbent in presidential debates. The sound bite is 15 seconds and the outcue is "in the debate."

Jarman: "For the incumbent, there really are benefits and detriments to being in the office for the last four years. On the one hand, they have four years worth of achievements they can point to. On the other hand, they have four years worth of policies that their challengers can go after in the debates."

Sound bite #6
Jarman says the presidential debates are sure to have some memorable lines. The sound bite is 17 seconds and the outcue is "want it delivered."

Jarman: "Well, you can count on the fact that there will be memorable lines in these debates. The problem for the candidates is they don't know which ones those will be before the debates happen. That's why they work so hard to prepare every line in these debates, so that whichever one turns out to be the famous line, it will be delivered the way they want it delivered."

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Contact: Jeff Jarman, (316) 978-6075 or jeffrey.jarman@wichita.edu.