Without a doubt, the 2010 campaign-season event that brought the most
attention to the University came on Oct. 13, with a much-anticipated
U.S. Senate debate between Republican Christine O’Donnell and Democrat
Chris Coons. The debate was co-hosted by the CPC and Delaware First
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, co-moderator of the debate with Nancy Karibjanian
of Delaware First Media, began broadcasting early in the day from a
makeshift studio at South College and Amstel avenues. Later, Blitzer
anchored CNN’s The Situation Room from the site. A CNN camera on The
Green featured shots of the University’s signature buildings throughout
As the day wore on, the campus was filled with more than 160
broadcast and print journalists, including about 50 international
reporters. In addition to a packed Mitchell Hall, those on campus
interested in the debate viewed the proceedings from an auditorium in
Wolf Hall and in the food court at the Trabant University Center.
Outside Mitchell Hall, a public expression area was established,
where about 200 supporters of the two candidates turned out with signs
and banners. Inside, the candidates answered questions posed by Blitzer
and Karibjanian and later responded to videotaped questions from UD
Following the debate, reporters had access to a “spin room,” where
representatives of the candidates offered their take on the event. Also,
David Wilson, assistant professor, and Jason Mycoff, associate
professor, both in the Department of Political Science and International Relations,
and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell addressed the press. The next morning,
several networks—CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC and CNN—broadcast from campus.
A week before the debate, the event was previewed by Rachel Maddow,
host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, who visited Newark and the
campus to focus on the Senate race and to broadcast her hour-long show
from the Deer Park Tavern near campus.
Just after the debate, the University conducted a telephone poll of
likely Delaware voters, which found that a solid majority of viewers
believed that Coons had won the debate and that few of those surveyed
had changed their minds about which candidate they were supporting. This
National Agenda opinion poll followed a similar one conducted before
the debate, which showed Coons with a 19-point lead four weeks before
The National Agenda Poll, which also found Democratic congressional
candidate John Carney with a 17-point lead over Republican Glen Urquhart
four weeks before the election, was overseen by Prof. Wilson, the CPC’s
coordinator of public opinion initiatives.
The University also hosted a 90-minute debate between Carney and
Urquhart in early October that was attended by more than 500 people and
could be viewed through streaming video online and via C-SPAN.
In addition to candidates for public office, several prominent
speakers appeared on campus in the days and weeks before Election Day to
discuss political issues. Best known, and most contentious, were Karl
Rove and Howard Dean, who spoke jointly as part of the UD Speaks series
to an audience of about 2,000 on Oct. 25 and didn’t hesitate to disagree
with each other.
Rove, who was senior adviser to President George W. Bush, is widely
regarded as the architect of Bush’s two successful presidential
campaigns. Dean ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004
and served as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2005-2009.
Despite their disagreements on virtually all the issues discussed, both
Rove and Dean paid tribute to Delaware’s retiring U.S. Congressman Mike
Castle, who attended the event, and praised his many accomplishments
while in office.
Both men now provide commentary to national media outlets. Their
appearance at UD, dubbed “Election Eve: Howard Dean and Karl Rove
Together,” provided the audience with insider views of the political
Also speaking in separate appearances on campus this fall, as part of
the CPC’s ongoing National Agenda lecture and discussion series, were
Patti Solis Doyle, manager of Biden’s 2008 vice presidential campaign;
Jim Crounse, one of the top direct mail consultants for the Democratic
Party; and Kenneth Vogel, a reporter for Politico.com.