Political science perspective: Debates unlikely to sway voter opinions

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 10:43 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In past elections, many Americans who were undecided on who to vote for, tuned into presidential debates for guidance in making their choice. This year, there’s a different tone with overall less individual indecision ahead of November, one local political expert explained ahead of Tuesday’s first presidential debate.

With more people dropping off ballots by mail and taking part in early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 general election, decisions for many are already made up when it comes to the choice to serve as the U.S. president for the next four years.

Ahead of Tuesday’s debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, Eyewitness News spoke with supporters of each candidate to gain insight into what’s important for local voters in a national election.

“I’ll be voting for Joe Biden because he said at the (Democratic National Convention) he wants to be everybody’s president, not just Democrats, but also Republicans,” said Wichita-area voter Lindsey Harris. “And that’s not what I feel from President Trump.”

Local voter Dave Rasmusen touted strengths with the U.S. economy under President Trump for his support of the president’s reelection bid.

“He has been great for the economy and for jobs and for the entire country, so I think he needs to get another four years,” Rasmusen said.

Wichita State University Political Science Department Chair and Associate Professor Neal Allen said there are few undecided voters ramping up to November and less third-party polling.

“...So that means there are less people up for grabs,” he said.

Even if you have made up your mind on which candidate you’re voting for, Allen said there’s still reason to tune into the debates.

“I would be watching to see how Biden handles attacks from Trump on his mental health fitness, and his family’s history of working around the world, and I would also be looking to see whether Biden can get Trump to engage on questions about taxes and his tax returns,” Allen said Tuesday ahead of the first presidential debate.

While undecided voters may be less common this election, one who spoke with Eyewitness News Tuesday said he’ll be paying attention to the debates more than any in previous elections.

“I’m one of the few people who are not decided, so I’m looking to see what they’re going to do in terms of how they’re going to help the average person and get the economy back on track,” local voter David Feiertag said.

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