2016 will be a watershed year in American politics. The next president will take office during a period of significant uncertainty domestically and around the world. Plus, the winner will likely have a chance to shake up the Supreme Court.
The year 2015 was brimming with TV events that in one way or another shaped the race for the White House. Though there are way too many to discuss in this column, let's take a look at four significant TV events and appearances by politicians in the second half of the year that helped define the 2016 election cycle.
The Iowa electoral contest is a different beast from primaries in other states, not least due to its fascinating voting process. With its 99 county conventions and 1,681 caucuses, the event forces presidential campaigns to supplement traditional TV advertising with an intense get-out-the-vote effort on the ground.
President Obama has indirectly referred to Trump's rise in speeches on immigration -- and in a recent interview with NPR, mentioned Trump by name. The public Trump vs. Obama feud, however, started many years ago. Politico reports that the West Wing "still burns over Trump leading the birth certificate charge in 2012." Present and former Obama aides say they believe Trump was integral to the creation of fears toward the president, encouraging racism and distrust -- as the candidate is doing now on the campaign trail.
The Hillary Clinton campaign is in general election gear and looks to have been there for some time. Back in early November, 'Time' wrote of Clinton's performance at the MSNBC Democratic forum: "[she] seemed to already be looking ahead to her potential Republican opponents."
Super PACs are increasingly defining the political marketing world and completely dominate GOP ad spending. However, TV ads are no longer sufficient to get a bump in the polls, so super PACs have begun to invest increasingly in on-the-ground infrastructure and digital media.
In Saturday's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton forcefully stated that "[Trump] is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are... showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists." While in theory the backlash against the hateful xenophobic comments produced by Mr. Trump have the potential to aid recruiting efforts, no evidence has been found to support Clinton's comment.
Viewers reached a total of 6.71 million on the evening, with about the same rating in Nielsen's "metered markets" as the second debate last month, also held on a Saturday. Viewership was, however, only about a third of what the Republican debate garnered earlier last week. Despite the stunted reach of the event, there were issues of consequence that pervaded the debate.
In the political advertising realm, TV is still king. Of the $11.4 billion in political projected ad spending in 2016 reported by Borrell Associates, about 51% is expected to be spent on TV ads. Digital advertising, while increasing significantly over the past years, will only account for 9.5%, adding up to just over $1 billion.
At the final GOP debate, we heard various statements about our current security and immigration. attempting to illustrate Whether eventual Republican primary voters care about the truth behind these "facts" is unknown. For now, let's look at some of the most controversial statements from the CNN debate and assess their actual verity.