"For it to be a democracy, all the people should vote," Ruth Hinerfeld told Patricia McCormack of 'United Press International' in 1980. The people included first-time voters and the undecided voters (also known as swinging voters). "In every election and increasingly so, there are a number of very close contests – a few votes one way or the other could make a different outcome. Of course, every vote counts." 

Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon were the first 2 candidates to debate on television. It was said televised debates attracted elements of tension and drama (as well as the built-in boredom factor from less sparkling TV performers) that were normally missing from the nightly newscasts. In Australia, Richard Carleton made the point in 1989, "For most Australians the evening news on television is their main source of information about the day's events." In those days, when Australians needed to know most would turn to channel Nine news and 'A Current Affair' because the station's "commitment to news is greater than any other Australian network. Our ability to give you the complete news picture is unequal."

A television debate on domestic and world issues, Robin Hill of 'Fairfax Media' reported in 1988, "helps the underdog and, secondly, it resets the election agenda. Thirdly, as the confrontational interview in the United States between George Bush senior and Dan Rather showed, a hard, uncompromising, and heated interview can divide a nation – and draw huge public sympathy for a beleaguered politician."

Gary Morgan of Morgan Gallup Poll told Robin, "(In 1983) Malcolm Fraser's only major mistake was not to have debated Bob Hawke in the last week of that election campaign. The impact of such a debate is that it resets the political agenda … There's no doubt that a debate helps the underdog in an election." In 1984, when Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock debated with Bob Hawke on television, "Our figures show that Peacock's approval rating a week before the election was 37%. Following the debate, the figure rose to 57%." Richard Carleton believed, "Among politicians, the view by and large is that any appearance (on TV) ipso facto is a plus."

At the time, the Premier of the state of New South Wales, Barrie Unsworth, was encouraged to debate then Opposition Leader Nick Greiner with opinion polls showing the Liberal Party in front. Ray Martin offered to host the debate live and unedited for 30 minutes in the last week of the campaign. "Normally we ('The Midday Show') wouldn't do it as it is a State issue, but this election result could have national ramifications."

Pointing out "television is the most honest medium," Ray said, "and for Unsworth, TV is his best medium. He's a rare politician who is the same on-air as well as off-air. I can't understand why he won't debate. If the polls continue to show a 10 point difference, I think Unsworth will be forced to reconsider." Robin Hill reported, "Yet, while many believe the Premier’s reluctance stems mainly from an unfortunate TV persona – his minders privately concede his TV style turns people off and want him to concentrate on radio and print – there are several theories on why he could benefit from a TV debate."

Political correspondent Paul Mullins remarked, "Greiner has perfected the 30 second grab a bit better than the Premier. Greiner tends to be a bit more punchy in his delivery, although there is not necessarily more substance in the content. He's more aggressive, he's easier to edit." Patricia Oakley added, "Unsworth gives long answers to questions, whether it's a technique I don't know. Greiner is interesting to interview. He is incredibly articulate. He almost goes into automatic pilot, he looks you straight in the eye and can rattle off perfect sentences."

Back in October 1960, then Senator John F. Kennedy told the press, "In a political campaign of such importance as this one, I do not believe we should permit the last 18 days of the campaign to go by without one further exchange between the two candidates. In today's world, the issues shift quickly and I believe that a 5th appearance (a 5th television-radio debate) would fill the void left in the present scheduling. I hope that Mr. Nixon will join in this proposal."

In the end, Democratic strategists told 'United Press International' that "televised campaign debates played the vital role in their presidential victory." Some 70 million viewers were counted watching Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon in the first of 4 joint radio-TV debates. It was described as "the tightest election since 1916." 303 of 537 state electors of the electoral college voted for Jack Kennedy. He only needed 269 electoral votes to win office. In the November 9, 1960 election results, over 68 million Americans voted, with Jack winning 34,120,496 popular votes. But it was the electoral votes that mattered most under the Constitution.

At the time the Democrats won both control of Congress (in total 100 Senate seats) and the House, which had a total of 435 seats. Senate carried 6-year terms. Before starting his 4-year term on January 20 1961, Jack acknowledged the "difficult and challenging" period ahead, that "there is general agreement by all our citizens that a supreme national effort is needed to move this country through the 1960s. All of our energies will be devoted to the interests of the United States and the cause of freedom around the world."

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