Analysis: Could Tuesday’s US Presidential debate impact the elections?

By , in Politics World on .

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 — Tuesday night’s US presidential debate was a knock-down, drag-out fight, with both candidates going at it like a couple of professional wrestlers, reported Xinhua news agency.

Around 29 million people watched US President Donald Trump constantly interrupt challenger Joe Biden, while the latter called the president a “clown” and told him to “shut up.”

It remains unknown whether or how much the raucous debate will influence the elections, but a number of polls may shed some light on the matter.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, three per cent of voters said the debates could influence their votes. While that’s a small number, every vote counts in one of the tightest elections in recent memory.

Past polls may also be of use in determining whether the debate had any impact. In 2008, 67 percent of Americans said the debates between candidates John McCain and then-Senator Barack Obama influenced their decision, Pew Research found.


In 1992, a similar percentage said the same thing when then-governor Bill Clinton and challenger Ross Perot ran against incumbent President George H.W. Bush, according to Pew Research.

However, this year, partisan rivalry is much stronger and there is much more at stake than in most past elections. More recent polls, such as last year’s study by Harvard Business School, found that debates have only a small influence on voters.

Christopher Galdieri, a political science professor at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, told Xinhua that he doubts the debates will matter much in terms of influencing the outcome. Generally, people watch debates to gauge how their favorite candidate is faring, he said.

Other experts have said it depends on what viewers are looking for.

Ford O’Connell, Republican strategist and TV news personality, told Xinhua that Tuesday saw a “fiery debate with multiple dust ups, there’s no question about it.”

“I think that both sides played to their base. So the question is, how much is that going to change voters’ views? I think if your concern is violence in Democratic cities, it just depends on what issue you’re looking at,” O’Connell said.

“Biden was trying for presentation more than trying for any sort of specifics,” O’Connell said. Some experts noted Biden’s tactic of often looking directly into the camera as if speaking directly to the American people, and argued that the tactic was probably helpful for the challenger.

There are still two debates left, with the first of those scheduled to be broadcast next week.

Some analysts believe that viewers will want to see Trump build a narrative around his economic achievements, including the rapidly lowering jobless rate as the economy opens up. That is in sharp contrast to his constant interruptions of his opponent on Tuesday night, which many analysts said did not help his case.


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