Friday, September 23, 2016

About 3 Out Of 4 Will "Probably" Watch Presidential Debate

I'm not sure I believe this poll. It is the Morning Consult Poll -- done on September 15th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,861 registered voters, with a margin of error of 1 point. According to the poll, about 73% say they are either very or somewhat likely to watch the first presidential debate on September 26th between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. About 25% say they won't watch, and 3% are unsure.

There are approximately 146.3 million registered voters in the United States (and in 2012 only 57.5% bothered to vote). About 73% of them would be 106.7 million voters. Even 44% (which would be 64.3 million) would be far more than the number who watched in 2000 (47 million) or 2008 (52 million). Is the interest in this race more than in either 2000 or 2008? Maybe, but I'll have to see the numbers to believe it.

I also have my doubts as to how much effect the debate will have on the election. Media pundits seem to think the debates could be a critical factor in who wins the presidency. Maybe they are right, but it seems to me that this is a weird race -- one where most actual voters have already made up their minds how they will vote. Most of those who watch will be doing so to cheer on their candidate -- not to make up their mind about who to vote for.

But I'm an old skeptic. What do you think? Will 64 to 106 million registered voters watch the debate? Will the debate decide our next president?

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