The 2020 democratic presidential primary debates: exploring politeness strategies for facing an aggressive incumbent

Robert S. Hinck, Edward A. Hinck, Shelly S. Hinck, William O. Dailey, Breanna Melton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study applied politeness theory to the thirteen Democratic primary debates of the 2020 campaign with comparisons to previous findings regarding the 2012 and 2016 Republican primary debates, the 2016 Democratic primary debates, and general election debates from 1960-2016. Our results indicate that the 2020 Democrats were less aggressive in their attacks than Republicans in 2012 and 2016, and that primary debates from 2012-2020 featured less aggressive qualities, on average, than general election debates. Results of the 2020 Democratic primary debates in particular showed a three-phase process of initial low intensity disagreement among candidates, followed by a phase of directly attacking the incumbent, with a third phase focusing on the Democratic front runners with Moderate and Progressive candidates using more direct and indirect face threats than single-issue and fringe candidates. Finally, while polls predicted the amount of time and thought-units candidates were afforded in the debates, they had little influence on politeness strategies utilized by the candidates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-199
Number of pages19
JournalArgumentation and Advocacy
Volume57
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • 2020 election
  • Primary debates
  • politeness theory
  • political campaigns

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The 2020 democratic presidential primary debates: exploring politeness strategies for facing an aggressive incumbent'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this