On Monday, Hofstra University will host the first of this year’s three presidential debates. Since 1992, the Commission on Presidential Debates has held three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate. It is unclear how much impact the debates actually have on the general election. While candidates who do “better” in a debate tend to have a bounce in the polls, that bounce tends to be temporary.
In most election cycles, a large number of voters are not that familiar with the candidates (particularly those who are running for President for the first time). For swing voters, the debates (and the post-debate coverage of the “highlights”) can either confirm the negatives or the positives associated with a candidate. This year, the two candidates are probably better known than in most cycles (or at least the names are more familiar). As such, it seems likely that it will be much more difficult for either candidate to change how voters see them. However, the candidates will still try.