Photo of the first presidential debate, September 26, 1960
Photo of the first presidential debate, September 26, 1960


WhiteHouseSouthFacade.JPG

Debate History from the Commission on Presidential Debates

  • Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987
  • 1858 Lincoln/Douglas Debates set an historical precedent for candidate debates
  • 1948 and 1956 were only public debates between presidential candidates prior to 1969
  • There were no presidential debates between 1960 and 1976
    • 1976: Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Go here for video of 3rd debate
    • 1980: Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan
    • 1984: Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale
    • 1988: George Herbert Walker Bush and Michael Dukakis
    • 1992: George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot
    • 1996: Bill Clinton and Bob Dole
    • 2000: George W. Bush and Al Gore
    • 2004: George W. Bush and John Kerry
    • 2008: Barack Obama and John McCain
    • 2012: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
    • 2016: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

See also History of Presidential Debate from Purdue University

Clinton-Trump-Johnson Poll, July 2016
Clinton-Trump-Johnson Poll, July 2016

Polls and Polling Data


Putting Post-Debate Flash Polls in Perspective, Pew Research Center

5 Key Things to Know about the Margin of Error in Election Polls, Pew Research Center







Fact Check: Trump and Clinton Debate for the First Time, NPR, September 26, 2016

external image Kennixn.jpg

Kennedy/Nixon Debates, 1960


Multimedia.pngFirst Kennedy/Nixon Debate (September 26, 1960) from the JFK Library on YouTube

This debate was watched by 70 million people, two-thirds of the nation's population at the time

The Great Debate: Kennedy, Nixon and Television in the 1960 Race for the Presidency from Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History


The Kennedy-Nixon Presidential Debates, 1960 from Museum of Broadcast Communications


rotating gif.gifGo to United States HistoryII.28 for more on the Presidency of John F. Kennedy

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Bush/Gore Debates, 2000


Multimedia.pngSaturday Night Live Skit on First Bush/Gore Presidential Debate (with Darnell Hammond and Will Ferrell)



rotating gif.gifGo To United States History II.32 for more on the Election of 2000




Lincoln at a debate with Stephen Douglas
Lincoln at a debate with Stephen Douglas

Lincoln/Douglas Debates (1858)

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 from the National Park Service

Lincoln-Douglas Debates from Digital History

primary_sources.PNG4th Debate, Part One


rotating gif.gifGo to United States History I.36 for more on the debates