In a year and cycle unlike any other, which included questions as to if one of the Presidential candidates would even show up to debate, today is the day. Joe Biden and Donald Trump will debate in what is scheduled to be the first of three presidential debates and one Vice-Presidential debate.
We start today, September 29th in Cleveland with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace as the moderator. The next debate will be the Vice Presidential Debate in Salt Lake City on October 7th and it'll be moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page. On October 15th the spotlight hits Miami. The second presidential debate will be moderated by C-SPAN's Steve Scully. Lastly, on October 22nd in Nashville Biden and Trump will take the stage one last time in a debate moderated by NBC co-anchor Kristen Welker.
Voting timelines could play a role because history suggests debates do matter in close elections. Notably, seven states, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming have already started early voting, and several more states like ours which have begun the vote by mail process could make a huge difference.
In the polling age, here’s the range of impact in the polls the first Presidential debate has had one week later. The smallest impact was with Bush vs. Clinton 1992 with 0.6% and the largest impact was Obama vs. Romney in 2012 with 5%. The average impact has been 2.6%.
The bottom line is that while there aren’t many undecided or truly independent voters this late in cycles, those who truly are on the fence do look to debates and they do have an impact. Given the significance of this election and the intrigue factor associated with Biden and Trump debating, the stakes are high and mostly for Biden. If he can prove he can go toe-to-toe with Trump for three rounds at an hour and a half each, he could stand to benefit. If he can’t, it could be a crushing blow to his candidacy. They should be interesting.
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