There is also a third format to be considered, the chat format—used earlier this week in the vice presidential debates—in which the moderator sits at a table discussing the questions with the candidates. Different types of learning occur with different formats. Chat formats prompt viewers to focus less on candidates’ performance and image considerations and more on the issues. Moreover, while chat debates place an almost equal emphasis on issues and image, this year’s lectern and town-hall debates resulted in almost three times as many candidate-image observations as claims of issue learning. So, the format of a debate can have a marked effect on the candidate’s communication and on viewers’ learning.
Just a little trivia for you going into Sunday’s event. Sunday’s debate should be interesting, indeed. Good luck to both candidates!