University of Wisconsin experts weighed in on how the last presidential debate could impact candidates, undecided voters and the election.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton went head-to-head for the last time Wednesday, explaining their stances on issues ranging from the growing national debt to selecting the next Supreme Court justice.
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UW journalism professor Mike Wagner said he believes the strong contrast between the two candidate’s views will make it clear to the students which candidate they will support. Each candidate has their own policies and personal styles, which students can individually resonate with, Wagner said. He added it is unlikely that anything Clinton or Trump said in the debate will affect their position in the race.
Dietram Scheufele, UW professor of life sciences communication, said Clinton presented herself as a more conservative Democrat, which could help her boost her image among undecided voters.
“[Clinton] was saying ‘you may not like me, but Trump is so much worse’,” Scheufele said.
Wagner also said Clinton did a slightly better job of appealing to the undecided voters by talking broadly about women’s rights and policies that help children. Wagner said Trump, on the other, hand may have turned a lot of people off when he said he may not accept the results of the elections if he lost.
When asked if he would accept the election’s results, Trump said he will keep his voters “in suspense.” Wagner said it is unclear what the statement means, but Trump should accept the public’s choice automatically.
“American elections are free and fair elections, and it’s not clear why a candidate would come and say that he may not be willing to abide by the results that come from the votes of the people,” Wagner said.
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Scheufele said Trump’s statement on the election results allowed Clinton to prove her point about Trump’s speech being “dangerous.”
Scheufele said Trump made himself appear irrational and unpredictable with comments like how he should have won an Emmy for the show Celebrity Apprentice
“Had [Clinton] spoken the same way in her past debates against President Obama, people would have been bored,” Scheufele said. “In this election, [Clinton] showed that boring and predictable is much better than dangerous and unpredictable.”
Scheufele said the election will more likely be a decisive electoral vote for Clinton. If Clinton wins with a large gap in Wisconsin, Republican candidates for Congress may begin distancing themselves from Trump.
With only a few weeks left until election day, Wagner said it can be expected the candidates will try to appeal to as many undecided voters as they can. This would make swing states like Wisconsin a priority.
The election is on Nov. 8.