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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Tuesday's presidential debate may have been a shit show, but it's not likely to move the needle

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2020 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge SCREEN CAPTURE / CNN
  • Screen Capture / CNN
As far as presidential debates go, Tuesday's was like no other. It was, in the on-air words of CNN's Dana Bash, a "shit show."

President Trump ran roughshod over moderator Chris Wallace, constantly interrupted Democratic candidate Joe Biden and refused to condemn violence by white supremacists. Biden, for his part, called Trump a liar, and told him to "shut up."

While the verbal shoving match may represent a new low in political discourse, experts said it's unlikely to move many voters. Biden has consistently led Trump by six or more points in national polls, and the debate offered no new insight into either candidate, said Juan Sepulveda, a political science professor at Trinity University.

"Trump really needed a game changer last night, and he didn't have it," said Sepulveda, who worked on both of Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.

Voters have largely locked in their choices for November's highly consequential contest, and in some parts of the country they've already started early voting.

In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 29% of respondents said the upcoming debates are extremely important or very important to their votes.  That number represents a record low in voter interest in the debates, even though enthusiasm around the election itself is high, Sepulveda said.

Even Trump's shocking refusal to condemn racist ideology and his slogan-ready support for the thuggish right-wing Proud Boys weren't shockers for those already familiar with the president's social media feed, the professor added.

"Trump didn't say anything last night that he hasn't already said daily in his crazy rants on Twitter," he said.

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