It’s all punditry these days; people are rarely talking about the core issues, and you see even less of the actual candidates talking about the issues. As we get closer to the election, it seems that the issues are lagging behind and everyone is focusing on the negative. The brevity of discussion about real issues They are only soundbites for an average of about ten seconds. Every gaffe, blunder, or slip-up is given much more media coverage than any other real issue.
Is it because Americans are ignorant to the “real” issues? Is it because attention spans have shortened? Is it because information can be immediately accessed so media must keep up with the minute-by-minute information?
The media has distorted messages of candidates in order to present “news-worthy” topics for the less-than-interested viewer. Entertainment has become central to politics, which is probably why the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are so popular. The media tends to focus on the negative, and so do the candidates. So in order to draw large audiences, news must either be comical or negative. However, negativity in campaigns can actually decrease voter turnout, especially for independent voters (who are the people that the candidates need to persuade!) The candidates, supported by the media, appear to not be on point with their messages which conflicts voters.
A couple weeks ago, Romney jumped to criticize Obama for his response to the attacks in Libya. Romney’s campaign realizes that he needs to be on the offense to even get in the news, but his comments weren’t providing any substance for his core message. Romney should know that his campaign should be focusing on the economy and only the economy. That’s the main topic that Romney has going for him (although polls have recently shown that more Americans would trust Obama would the economy than Romney at this point).
Tonight, we’ll see how the candidates deliver their own message. Obama needs to sit pretty and make no blunders. Romney needs to crush Obama’s points out of the park in order to even have a chance at “winning” the debate. Pay attention to what types of questions the moderators will propose, since those will most likely be suited to the media’s priming beforehand. Whether or not the candidates stay on message, the media will probably just focus on what they said wrong, rather than what they did right.