Campaigns Brace for Social Media Effect on Debates

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Sept. 28 2012 4:10 PM

Campaigns Brace for Social Media Effect on Debates

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Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages.

With the first presidential debate five days away, President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked away this weekend in intense prep sessions. As they do their mock debates, various social-media organizations are planning to broadcast real-time reactions and amplify fallout from gaffes and missteps.

After highly rated debates shook the polls during the Republican primaries, Yahoo, AOL, and YouTube are working directly with the debate commission to create streams and live reaction. XBox Live will allow subscribers to use their controllers to judge both candidates’ statements as they’re made. All of which raises the possibility of making a focus group out of millions of people who are watching at home.

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These new wrinkles only magnify the stakes for both campaigns. The Obama team claims the president is an underdog because his official duties don’t allow more prep time. Romney, meanwhile, has said he will be at a disadvantage because it’s his first debate as the Republican nominee.

Of course, when both sides insist they’re going to do poorly, you can bet we’re in for some good television.

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