Sunday, June 3 – Democratic Party Debate
Tuesday, June 5 – Republican Party Debate
Sponsored by CNN and WMUR, New Hampshire
Aired nationally on CNN from 7:00 to 9:00 pm
St. Anselm College, New Hampshire
This note from the CUIP:
Thank you for participating in Debate Watch! It was very successful. 200 independents from 30 states filled out surveys after watching the debates broadcast from South Carolina on May 3rd (Democratic Party) and from California on May 10th (Republican Party).
Independents are getting a look at the presidential terrain, and what a terrain! Eight Democrats and ten Republicans participated in the debates in South Carolina– and at least five more major players are considering entering the race. Independents who participated in Debate Watch did not feel there was any clear winner in either debate, nor did the political pundits who commented afterwards.
It’s an unpredictable campaign season. As one McCain staffer noted recently, “the only thing certain about this presidential election is the level of uncertainty!” With the presidential campaign beginning 18 months earlier than previous races, many states are now moving or threatening to move their primary dates to earlier in the primary season, meaning almost half the states’ primaries will be over by February 5! Candidates and their campaign teams are scrambling to figure out their next moves. Moreover, nobody can safely predict who the ultimate candidates will be, including if there will be a significant (read: wealthy and well-known) independent to enter the race.
All this instability can be a good thing for independents. We don’t need to pick a candidate or a winner in the debates. Rather, we’re insisting that the candidates talk to and include independents and address our concerns about partisanship and corruption and their negative effects on the political process.
99% of Debate Watch respondents noted that neither the Democratic or Republican candidates acknowledged or spoke directly to independent voters. Indeed, only two Republicans – and no Democrats – even mentioned the word “independent.” In addition, 98% of independents surveyed believe that political reform and partisanship are important issues to be addressed, and that the candidates failed to do so.
Not one independent who watched the Republican debate felt that Senator John McCain did anything in the debate to regain the support he lost from independent voters because of his position on the war.
Independents’ advice to the candidates about how to speak more effectively to independent voters? Here’s a few highlights:
Acknowledge our existence and our numbers. Admit that most Americans are now independent voters, reflecting our dissatisfaction with partisanship;
Speak to fixing our broken election system;
Admit that the parties are corrupt – they continue to stack the deck against independents.
On the media front:
Sarah Lyons, Communications Director of CUIP, has been speaking with the media about Debate Watch – and some media outlets are listening.
In South Carolina a local daily newspaper, The Greenville News, invited chair of the South Carolina Independence Party Wayne Griffin to view the Democratic Party debate in their offices to get his reactions to the debate in “real time.”
Morris News Service, which owns 12 weekly newspapers in 6 states, spoke with Helen Blocker-Adams after the debate to get her “Debate Watch” reactions. See the story http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/042707/met_126289.html
In Iowa, WHO-TV invited independent Larry Reinsch to submit his responses to the debates on the state’s Iowa caucus website - www.iowavotes2008.org
Now the focus of the presidential campaign is moving to New Hampshire, as Democratic and Republican Party debates are set for June 3 and June 5, respectively. The chair of the New Hampshire Committee for an Independent Voice, Betty Ward, is planning a Debate Watch party at a local bar. The debates will be broadcast by CNN from Manchester, New Hampshire. We’ll send everyone a new survey towards the end of this month, and we’ll keep you posted!
Plan your next Debate Watch for June 3!
Contact Nancy Ross or Fran Miller at 212-609-2800