How the debates impacted the election

The Madison community overwhelmingly believed that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won the presidential debates this fall.

In a poll conducted on 105 members of the Madison community, there was a firm belief that Biden and Harris won their debates, with only a handful of respondents believing that either President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence won.

For the first presidential debate, 50 respondents believed Biden won, 23 believed it was a tie, and only three people believed Trump won.  That same poll showed, however, that a large number of people did not like the first debate overall, 23 respondents, 21.9%, thought both candidates did poorly. 

AP Government teacher Amanda Alonso thought the first debate was overall an embarrassing performance for our nations as a whole.

“Oh man, that first presidential debate. I was shocked at the way the candidates were speaking to each other, and speaking to the people,” Alonso said.

While Alonso was speaking only of her personal opinion, the poll shows that this seemed to be a common sentiment in the Madison community.

The poll also showed that while people believed Trump and Pence performed slightly better in the later debates, they still did very poorly, at best.

However these results likely meant little or nothing for the Republican ticket, according to Dr. Jack Miller, a political scientist at Portland State University with a Ph.D.

“There are so many fewer undecided voters left this time, it’s below 5% according to most surveys. So the final debate is not likely to have the kind of impact that the final debate in 2016 had,” Miller said.

Dr. Miller elaborated, stating that presidential debates can have an effect, but those cases are few and far between. With almost all American voters already decided before the election, the impact of the debate was minimal. Even if Trump and Pence had performed very well in the debates, it is very unlikely they would have been able to impact this election enough to win.

While the Trump campaign still tried to win the election through legal challenges, the electors cast their votes in all 50 states, 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. Congress then certified these results, officially closing out any remaining possibility of Trump staying in office.

If President Trump were to have won the election, the debate was not where he was going to do it.