NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – With one official debate down and two separate Town Hall forums finished on Thursday night, a final debate is set for Belmont University in just one week.
The Thursday debate is expected to bring together President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on stage, but it will come less than two weeks before election day.
As some many voters have already mailed-in ballots and started early voting, we wanted to see how important this final debate will be for people.
Stephenie Dodson has lived in Nashville all her life and says she’s never missed an election. She also says she’d normally vote on election day but her mind is made up and doesn’t want to risk not being able to make it on the day of.
“I know who I’m voting for,” said Dodson.
Still she sees the value in the debate process.
“I think it’s very important. Debates very important to see that candidate in their own words, describe what their policy and procedures are going to be for our country, it’s very important.”
Another voter at the Green Hills Library agrees. Glenn Booth said, “the debates are wonderful, Belmont does a great job always. But I had been following this contest since the last election and I felt I was very comfortable voting today.”
Booth also wanted to point out his polling place had “done an unbelieveable job of moving a high volume of people very efficiently and very politely.”
So if these voters are so sure about how they’re casting their ballots, who benefits from the Belmont debate? Is there still an ‘undecided voter?’
We turned to MTSU Political Science Professor Ken Syler.
“There’s incredible interest in this election and there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people have made up their minds. But we’ve got to remember 2016 and if this is a close election like 2016 think of this, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were decided by 90,000 votes cumulatively,” said Syler.
He said even if there are just a few voters up for grabs next Thursday, the debate is still important. Syler makes note the election, like most second term elections for incumbent Presidents is a referendum on President Trump, “whether or not to keep him four more years.”
Syler said with the performances in the first debate, “that debate hurt Donald Trump’s chances of being re-elected. It was such a debacle, very few issues were discussed. Both candidates had some blame but Donald Trump got the majority of that blame. So that debate impacted where we are right now in the polling.” Making future debates important, including the final one, which Syler calls Trump’s last “chance to change the trajectory of this race.”
One other point the News4 Political Expert made is around polling over the last year.
In his words he explained, “Donald Trump’s poll numbers throughout this past year have been incredibly stable. If you look at the RealClearPolitics average of 10 different polls, a year ago today, October 15th 2019, Donald Trump was sitting at 43%. Today he’s sitting at 42.3% support. Amazingly stable. His real test is going to be, if he hasn’t generated more support in a year, how’s he going to do it in the next three weeks? This debate is his last chance to make his case to the American public about why they should give him four more years. A lot of what he’s saying still is directed toward his base. Next Thursday night he needs to expand that level of support if he has any chance of winning the electoral college and winning the election.”