CHARLESTON — Famed political scientist Murray Edelman declared that politics in America had become a spectacle.
For example, in 1967 Edelman wrote, “For most men most of the time politics is a series of pictures in the mind, placed there by television news, newspapers, magazines, and discussions. The pictures create a moving panorama taking place in a world [that] the mass public never quite touches, yet one its members come to fear or cheer, often with passion and sometimes with action.”
Presidential debates are the pinnacle of political spectacles. They require endless kinds of technologies, thousands of personnel, a ton of energy (both from power grids and people), a large venue, and candidates with the courage and ego to stand on a stage and face tough questions during live, national television.
And they produce moving panoramas that most of the public never touches, but that in dramatic ways shapes our opinions, our fears, and our cheers.
Tonight the UWElectionEye team went all in to examine this spectacle. We got into the Republican Party presidential debate. Some of us sat in the debate hall amidst the raucous, loud audience. Some of us were in the press room. All of us got into the Spin Room afterward, where supporters and surrogates advocate for their candidates.
Here is a collection of photos that shows what this looks like on the ground.
— Professor David Domke, Chair, UW Communication Department
Photos by Alex Stonehill, A.V. Crofts, and Almeera Anwar