Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at first
debate in Denver in 2012
Photo: US News
Possibly, but the general rule is that debates don’t change a race. However, this year doesn’t follow the rules very well. Recall that Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama four years ago in the early October debate here in Denver. But Obama went on to win the race by 5 points, largely because his strength in battlegrounds states was unshaken even while his national polling numbers slipped for a time due to the debate.
There are several reasons to be extra cautious about calling the race this year. People remain very unhappy about the direction of the country, they desire some amount of change, they’re worried about the future for their children and neither candidate is well thought of. In addition, as much of July demonstrated, this is an election highly effected by outside events, such as the Dallas shooting, the Nice terror, the Russian hacking, and unforced errors like the Comey testimony and the attack on the Khans.
The summer polls are still in pre-season. The first polls after Labor Day will be most important. If Clinton is ahead beyond the margin of error at that point after all the pollsters tighten their screen techniques to capture most likely voters, Trump is in trouble.
The first debate in late September is likely to have record viewership. Trump may need it to change the direction of the race. If Clinton is still in the lead, she will just need to demonstrate competence and confidence. She wins if it’s a draw.
Arvada Chamber of Commerce Leadership Breakfast, Aug. 19
Photo: Arvada Chamber