Annenberg group shaping 2016 election debates

Group will examine the logistics of presidential debates and try to incorporate social media

· December 4, 2013, 7:36 pm   ·  Updated December 4, 2013, 9:55 pm

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Luke Chen | DP

Benjamin Ginsberg (far left) and Bob Bauer (center) are both members of the Annenberg Working Group on Presidential General Election Debates. They are are also co-chairs of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.


Penn affiliates will have a hand in shaping the 2016 presidential election debates.

Prominent Republican attorney and 1974 College graduate and former Daily Pennsylvanian Editor- in- Chief Benjamin Ginsberg and Annenberg School of Communications professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson are specifically looking at the format of these debates as part of the Annenberg Working Group on Presidential General Election Debates. The group aims to evaluate current methodologies of presidential debates, such as its format and location.

In response to recent rapid advances in technology, they are also considering ways of integrating social media into the debates. Results of their study are expected by late spring.

“We’re not saying something is broken and we’re trying to fix it,” Jamieson told Politico earlier this week. “We’re saying there’s an enormous potential here for voter learning and asking if there’s a way to increase the number of people who benefit from that.”

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Both Jamieson and Ginsberg declined to comment further about the group until the results of its study are released.

The working group has already met twice this fall — both times at Penn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. It is planning to meet with leaders of the Commission on Presidential Debates next month to discuss the intentions of its study.

Many of the commission members are well-versed in American presidential elections.

Jamieson, who is leading the study, is an American Academy of Political and Social Science Fellow and has authored numerous books on the U.S. presidency, including “Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate.”

Related: Penn alum to lead national election commission

Bob Bauer, President Barack Obama’s former White House Counsel, and several top debate-prep advisors for both Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaigns are serving alongside Jamieson and Ginsberg.

Ginsberg and Bauer are also the two co-chairs of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, a group established by President Obama to evaluate and suggest changes on how to improve current election practices.

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