The Debate Mattered And Not Just In The Presidential Race

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

Going into Monday’s debate with Donald Trump, the 538 election model “now cast” of who would prevail if the election was held on that day based averages of state surveys, gave Trump at 47.9% chance of winning the Presidency on September 26 (with new data on that day still reflecting surveys taken before the debate on the evening of September 25), if the election were held then. Post-debate polling have dropped his odds to 27.6% and falling, a 20.3 percentage point plunge in three days!

There has really been no news event in the relevant time period other than the debate that could explain this dramatic change in public opinion.

But, the pre-debate and post-debate media coverage does seem to also reflect greater media resolve to call out Trump’s failings. Multiple media outlets calling him a liar on the eve of the debate and the moderator in the debate also called him out on this score. USA Today “antiendorsed” Trump in its first Presidential endorsement in 34 years. An Arizona paper endorsed Clinton with the first Democratic Presidential endorsement in more than a century.  The Harvard Republicans club declined to endorse Trump, as did all of the still living former Republican Presidents and all 100 of the CEOs of the Fortune 100.

Some of this is in response to criticism from the left about the failure of the media to clearly explain how far off the reservation Trump’s conduct has been. But, a lot of the shift of intelligent conservatives in politics and the media come from pure disgust with Trump as a person.

Until the debate, lots of swing voters in Republican leaning areas had not really had to confront many of Trump’s failings as they considered their Presidential preferences.  But now, as a result of the debate and related media driven blitz, they are now hearing the unanimous chorus against him as they start to consider the matter more seriously and are seeing for the first time personally his shortcomings.

Clinton doesn’t have to hold the lead much longer, either.  Iowa’s in person early voting has already begun and voters in Colorado will get their ballots in less than three weeks.

Republican Senate Candidates Hurt Even More Than Trump

Even more striking is the shift in the odds of Republicans retaining control of the U.S. Senate, which, theoretically, from a high school civics perspective, should have nothing to do with Monday’s Presidential debate.

The Republicans had a 52.0% chance of retaining control of the U.S. Senate in the 538 election model peaked on September 25 (i.e. immediately before the debate).  This has dropped to 27.0%, a decline of 25.0 percentage points in the same four day time period based upon how a candidate in the same election who isn’t running for U.S. Senate performed in a debate.

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have actually been hit more heavily by Trump’s poor debate performance on Monday night than Trump himself!

This powerfully proves the recent political science research that I mentioned in a blog post a couple of weeks ago, showing that the biggest factor in how voters vote in down ticket partisan races is their Presidential race preference.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    Not only is there a lower level of ticket splitting: Republican Senators have, with VERY few exceptions, endorsed Trump and refused to criticize even his most egregious errors. Among Republicans running in this year's election, I do not recall any condemnation or withdrawal of support. There has been relatively little criticism. Even those who are not running in 2016, GOP Senators have been supportive. As best I can recall, only Graham, Lee and Sasse refused to endorse.

    • FrankUnderwood says:

      Didn't Captain Kirk in Illinois endorse and subsequently dis-endorse him?

    • exlurker19 says:

      The Flake from Arizona has been quite verbal about the TrumpstaDumpsta and not in a good way, I believe.

    • ohwilleke says:

      It will be interesting to see how far down the ballot Presidential race coat tails will extend.  Colorado's U.S. Senate race is the safest race for an incumbent Democrat in the country, and a shift in control of the U.S. Senate would give a President' Clinton free reign over the nominations process for SCOTUS and other posts.  But, there are U.S. House races that are in play like CD-6, and a single seat shifting to the Democrats in a close State Senate race could tip control of the Colorado General Assembly to the Democrats.  If there are serious coat tails, Democrats could even have a safe majority in the General Assembly so they would not be beholden to their most conservative caucus members on particular issues.

      A flip in control of the U.S. House seems like a long shot, but it would hardly be impossible for serious anti-Trump coat tails to deliver that as well (although few pundits are willing to put in the effort to even analyze House races this year), and even closing the margin of a GOP majority in the House could make it much easier for a natural centrist get to yes negotiator like HRC secure modest legislative accomplishments.

      • FrankUnderwood says:

        The problem is the GOP seats the.Dems pick off will be of moderate Republicans in swing districts. That will have the effect of leaving a more batshit crazy caucus for Paul Ryan or his teabagging replacement to control.

        • BlueCat says:

          House flip would be worth it. The House can't filibuster. But they'll keep the House unless things change radically between now and the close of the election. And I don't think Colorado will be much help there for starters. I think triage now demands everything go into the race for Prez and taking back the Senate. Even the Senate will be harder than most thought but it's still realistically doable if just barely a this point. Could start looking better. 

  2. itlduso says:

    The CBS Morning Show on Tuesday had a "fact check" segment about the debate.  The reporter stated that both candidates "stretched the truth".  For Trump, they noted his lies about Iraq, Iran, revealing tax returns, etc., etc.  For Clinton, they noted that she had previously supported TPP (without noting the distinction of supporting the concept of TPP before the final negotiated details were presented which she then opposed).  The reporter then stated that Hillary had stretched the truth about her economic plan creating 10 million jobs.  The reporter stated that this job growth could only occur with the complicity of Congress.  Since that is unlikely with a GOP Congress, Hillary was deemed to have "stretched the truth".  It is mainstream reporting like this that has resulted in the situation the country faces today.

  3. Davie says:

    Mike Littwin does his usual great job putting things in perspective.  His latest column swings a mighty hammer:

    Meanwhile, Clinton got to the heart of the matter with a much-later-in-the-morning tweet of her own: 

    Hillary Clinton: What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?

    It’s a tough but fair question, but I’d put it another way. 

    What kind of nation could ever sleep again if it elected that kind of man its president?

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