Tuck Into Your Mind For October

I read the other day that the presidential debates will be in October. Three of them total. My mind went to a point from the 1980 presidential campaign that I’d like to share with you. It’s not generally well known. You could find it handy as we get nearer to the debates in October.

In the summer and early fall of 1980, President Jimmy Carter ran ahead of Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan. The two candidates exchanged places of front-runner every so often, but mostly Carter kept in the lead. The Carter campaign staff spent much time and money portraying Reagan as old, dumb, and cowboyish. Most Americans didn’t know Reagan and, as such, the polls reflected this negative impression.

Here’s the point to remember. When Reagan appeared in the nationally televised debate with Carter, viewers mostly expected to see their impressions confirmed. But when Reagan spoke with detail, energy, passion, and charm, they were stunned. His actual performance contradicted the advertised image. This contradiction was the opening of the door to voters reconsidering their decision on who to check off on their ballot.

Mitt Romney has been hammered throughout this summer. Most people don’t know him beyond what they seen in advertisements. If he performs well in the debate, he might see an effect similar to what Reagan encountered.

My point isn’t to promote one’s win over another’s loss. My point, rather, is to show you how history might have a very real application to today.