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Debate Prep

The eight candidates for the Democratic nomination for president are getting ready for tonight's debate in Charleston, S.C., but are people preparing to watch?

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released today shows that only 31 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have tuned in to any of the televised candidate forums thus far. (There have been three, how many have you seen?)

As one might expect, viewership has been highest among those who are traditionally most likely to vote: those with college degrees or more education and older Americans.

But the unique format for tonight's debate presents a new wrinkle that could broaden the pool of viewers. The discussion is co-sponsored by CNN and YouTube, the video-sharing site which has provided a platform not only to pop-culture phenomena such as The Evolution of Dance, which has been viewed more than 53 million times according to the site, but also to a cottage industry of political videos ranging from campaign-generated, from candidate-to-camera content to the "Obama Girl."

Tonight's debate aims to give YouTube users a chance to ask the questions. CNN producers will select questions from those submitted via the Web site, with the chosen videos guiding the candidates' discussion.

The Post-ABC News poll found that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who use the Internet for news and information about political candidates are more likely to be debate watchers, 38 percent compared with 26 percent have yet to tune in so far this campaign season; they're also are more likely to be paying attention to the presidential race (84 percent say they are following very or somewhat closely).

Will tonight's merger of technology and campaigning attract even more new viewers from among this politically engaged crowd? Will you tune in?

Complete data from the Post-ABC News poll can be found here.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 23, 2007; 9:21 AM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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