GENTRY: And now Great Art at Eastern from the Portales Campus of Eastern New Mexico University, I'm Jeff Gentry, Dean of the College of Fine Arts here on KENW your public Radio Network. Today my guest is Josh Bramlett of ENMU’s Department of Communication, he is an expert in Political Communication especially candidate debates and social media. Thank you for joining me today.
BRAMLETT: Thank you for having me Doctor Gentry, it's good to be back on campus.
GENTRY: Right, now Josh for what purpose do candidate debates function in our political system?
BRAMLETT: Debates are important civically because they inform voters about candidate stances on policies and they are the single most important moment for influencing undecided voters. Now by the time of the General Election Debates, there aren't that many undecided voters but for the undecided voters, debates are very influential and helping them decide who to vote for.
GENTRY: Yes, it's nice to let them see a comparison a direct comparison of the candidates unfiltered by media or third-party advertisements.
GENTRY: So, there are few people realize that Presidential debates have only been contested on a consistent basis since 1976 but they really are an institution now. The first Biden-Trump debate was regarded as many- by many as a trainwreck, but as a communication expert I'm guessing your take is less dismissive.
BRAMLETT: So, debates also help to reinforce partisanship and to energize voters and I would say that the first Presidential debate as well as the Vice-Presidential debate did serve to reinforce support for either candidate for partisans; and I would note that in the first debate both candidates did pursue the strategies that were discussed before the debate. President Trump did have the strategy to try to throw off or Vice-President Biden and then he pursued that communication strategy as well.
GENTRY: Right. Now in that debate they did have a substantial clash of positions. Right. I mean we actually. it wasn't just about character that we heard about some key issues. So, what do you think is an example of an issue where Vice-President Biden was able to extend his case.
BRAMLETT: Right, and so Vice-President Biden did pursue the strategy of speaking directly to voters. You often noticed that he would speak directly to the camera on issues such as the coronavirus, and then in the Vice-Presidential debate both candidates also there was substantial clash and substantive discussion of policies particularly in the Vice-Presidential debate. So, where these debates for all their flaws absolutely.
GENTRY: Right yeah, it's funny sometimes media folks or public of ordinary people I'll really look down on politicians as a class and Roderick Hart is a scholar who has identified how together voters and the media kind of seduce America into being anti political class. But as you said they do provide candidate debates provide that information that we can actually use. So, what, what do you think about the credibility factor in the Vice-Presidential debate. Do you think both Kamala Harris and Mike Pence advanced their credibility?
BRAMLETT: I think that it was a solid performance by both candidates. They're both skilled politicians; and I thought it was a substantive performance for both. And this VP debate was particularly important because one of them, or both of them are likely to be the party nominees in 2024 regardless of how the election goes.
GENTRY: Yeah, either way we're going to have the oldest President in American history at the end of this campaign. So, the President's COVID-19 illness means just one more debate on October 22nd in Nashville with perhaps a lot writing on it. What do you expect?
BRAMLETT: Well, Belmont University is preparing for it to happen so I certainly hope that it happens; and what's interesting is that this debate will be after early voting has started in many states including New Mexico; you can start to early vote starting on October 17th.
GENTRY: Great well Josh Bramlett thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us today. Our listeners can learn more about this program at KENW.org; and all the Great Arts at Eastern can be found at ENMU.edu/fineartsevents thanks for listening on KENW your Public Radio Network.