I’m not saying the presidential debates don’t matter, that’s what everybody else is saying. Fewer and fewer Americans are watching the debates. There is increasingly less substance to the debates. Many argue that the debates still provide valuable information for voters, especially as the proliferation of social media has increased information availability and the ease of information gathering. However, the use of social media during a debate makes people learn less. Finally, even if people do watch the debates and they do gain information about the candidates as a result of the debates, there is no discernible effect on the polls.
That being said, today the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the moderators for this election season’s debates. Lester Holt, Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace have been selected to moderate this year’s presidential debates.
Lester Holt, the anchor of the “NBC Nightly News,” will moderate the first debate on Sept. 26; Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN will moderate the town hall debate on Oct. 9; and Chris Wallace of Fox News will handle the final debate on Oct. 19. Additionally, CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano will moderate the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 4.
The format of each 90-minute debate as described by the CPD is as follows:
First presidential debate (September 26, 2016, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY):
The debate will be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
Vice presidential debate (October 4, 2016, Longwood University, Farmville, VA):
The debate will be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
Second presidential debate (October 9, 2016, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO):
The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants and the other half will be posed by the moderator based on topics of broad public interest as reflected in social media and other sources. The candidates will have two minutes to respond and there will be an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate further discussion. The town meeting participants will be uncommitted voters selected by the Gallup Organization.
Third presidential debate (October 19, 2016, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV):
The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate.