UVA Center for Politics: 1st presidential debate did not affect candidates' polling

UVA Center for Politics says first debate did not change polls.
Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Both candidates are back on the campaign trail after the first presidential debate Tuesday night.

University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato says the polling he’s looking at suggests the debate did not change a thing and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is still ahead of President Donald Trump.

“We are so polarized, we’re so tribal in politics today. We’re so fixed on what we want, and who we support that my guess is this is not going to have a major impact on the vote. I’ve already seen one private poll and two public ones that suggest exactly that," Sabato said.

Sabato says debates are about pinning the candidates down on the big issues. While the most salient issue on voter’s minds is usually the economy, Sabato says this election is different.

“This election is about Donald Trump. Everybody knows it. It’s a referendum on Donald Trump," he said.

Tuesday night’s debate was marked by name calling and yelling, but it was not the first ugly debate. The 1988 and 1992 elections are when negativism and politics exploded according to the center’s director.

“That’s when we started having independent PACs [Political Action Committee] spending large sums of money with attack ads going after not just presidential candidates, but Senate candidates, House candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and it’s only gotten worse," Sabato said.

Many national and swing state polls indicate a lead for Biden, but polls had also indicated a lead for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who went on to lose the last election. Sabato says pollsters have made changes since then.

“We didn’t have as many measurements as we have today, we’ve more than doubled the number of polls in Wisconsin," he said.

The first and only vice presidential debate is set for Wednesday, October 7, and the second presidential debate will be on Thursday, October 15.

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