“They are important but not critical,” said Bill Richardson, former New Mexico governor, who shared a stage of debate with Biden in the 2008 Democratic primary. “There are very few undecided ones left.”
Make-or-break debates are that Exception, not the rule – and the precipitation is mostly volatile.
Take part in the first 2012 debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney that alerted Democrats after Obama looked flat and disconnected. Immediately after the debate, Romney took part in public opinion polls.
“For about five or six news cycles the race got tighter,” said Kevin Madden, who was a senior advisor to Romney. “But then it returned to its normal trend.”
Looking forward to Tuesday’s debate, he said, “I think if this is what you’re looking for to radically change the foundations of the race we’re overdoing it… In a Trump news cycle, or in the Trump era, it could be within two hours be a whole new outrage or event driving a news cycle. In order to [debates] have even less lasting effects. “
He said, “The greater likelihood is that a very stable race will remain stable no matter what happens in the debates.”
The indolence that of Cleveland The debate is overwhelming. Tuesday night’s debate marked the last five weeks of a race that was remarkably static – Biden’s lead over Trump averaged between 4 and 10 points since May 1 – with fewer indecisive voters than in the last election. If 90 minutes of television is to turn competition upside down, it has to do what a global pandemic, economic collapse, and historic summer of civil unrest couldn’t.
“It’s hard to imagine any other debate than Nixon in 60 that really affected the outcome,” said Matt Bennett of the center-left Third Way. “There can be great moments, debates can be won by acclamation, but they cannot change the outcome.”
Bennett added a caveat. “If something really, really dramatic happens, it could,” he said. “But I mean, that almost never happens. And these two guys are pretty experienced at this point. “
This doesn’t mean the debate doesn’t matter, especially for Trump, who is running out Time to turn his campaign around. His advisors see the competition as an opportunity for Trump to take Biden to more liberal fringe areas of the Democratic Party in order to reduce his support among the moderates. Trump’s months of efforts to do this have so far fell flat. But with millions of viewers expected, the first debate might be its best chance.
Even if Trump dominates the debate, the flurry of news in the Trump era – much of it from his own creation – can quickly lose any momentum the president gains. Supreme Court confirmation hearings are around the corner and the coronavirus pandemic rages on. Trump has had little success even a few days off the defensive, and there are signs that are unlikely to change. Just one example: The New York Times said in theirs Bomb report on Trump’s taxes on Sunday that “more articles will be published in the coming weeks”.
Polls show that there are only a few voters who have not yet made a decision between Trump and BIden. According to a new poll by POLITICO / Morning Consult, conducted just before the debate, 86 percent of voters said they made up their minds who to vote, while only 14 percent said they could change their minds. Among the Biden voters, 93 percent say they made up their mind, while 89 percent of Trump voters say they won’t change their mind.
One thing both candidates can rely on: a large audience. More than seven in ten voters, 71 percent, say they plan to watch some or all of the upcoming debates. But most of them – half of the total number of voters – say they don’t expect the debates to have an impact on their vote. Only 21 percent of all voters said the debates will affect their vote.
That’s almost the 29 percent of voters in an NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll this month who said the upcoming debates were “extremely” or “fairly” important to their votes for the president – the lowest grade, for that these respondents recorded A poll that dates back to 2000. A total of 71 percent said the debates were “only something important” or “not important at all”.
And even among voters interested in the debate, polls suggest that many likely have already made up their minds. In the swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania is the Quinnipiac survey puts undecided voters at 5 percent and 3 percent respectively. Given the relatively small number of undecided voters, Doug Schwartz, Quinnipiac University vice president and poll director, said in an email, “The potential for the debate to affect the race is limited.”
The real meaning of the debate will likely be on the sidelines of competition. While the number of undecided voters is small, the race remains within the margin of error in some battlefield states – where even a small campaign could prove significant.
If If the candidates are not attracting new voters, a debate can be important to build support from voters who already tend to support them. Casual Biden followers who have heard Trump portray Biden as shady and unable to perform without a teleprompter can judge him for themselves in a high pressure situation. The same combative, filterless attitude could remind Trump supporters why they loved him four years ago.
In addition, the debate will provide new fodder for advertisements and fundraising for both campaigns and outside groups.
“I think it’s important for things like enthusiasm and voting,” said Mathew Littman, a former Biden speechwriter.
Because of this, the debates can act as a kind of Rorschach test. According to the POLITICO / Morning Consult poll, voters expect their preferred candidate to do the best in Tuesday night’s debate. Overall, 44 percent of voters expect Biden to do better on Tuesday, while 41 percent believe Trump will do better. But 88 percent of Biden voters believe he will be the better debater, and 90 percent of Trump voters believe the president will get the best out of Biden.
Consistent with these divided expectations, equal proportions of voters say that every man is “a good debater”. Biden rates honesty better: 57 percent agree that he’s honest, compared to 42 percent who agree that Trump is honest. But Trump has an energy advantage: 57 percent agree he is “energetic,” while only 49 percent agree it describes Biden – whom Trump has proposed, with no evidence, to use an unspecified chemical substance to aid his debate performance.
Part of lowering the president’s expectations of his opponent revolved around allegations that 77-year-old Biden had suffered intellectual decline. But more voters in the POLITICO / Morning Consult poll agree that Biden is “mentally fit” (53 percent) than the same thing about Trump (49 percent). Trump, however, rates whether each candidate is “in good health” better: 56 percent agree that the president is in good health, but only 46 percent agree that Biden is.
The POLITICO / Morning Consult poll was conducted September 25-27 and polled 1,991 registered voters. The error rate is plus or minus 2 percentage points.