The Big Debate: will it matter?

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (Evan Vucci and Matt Rourke/AP Photos)

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (Evan Vucci and Matt Rourke/AP Photos)

    Clinton vs. Trump: tonight’s presidential debate has all the anticipation of a heavyweight championship bout on pay-per-view. But will it matter? 

    If there’s one thing we know about this campaign, it’s that it’s unpredictable.

     

    Pennsylvania is a battleground state where the race has tightened in recent weeks, so a big jolt from the debate could mean a lot here.

    I spoke to Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College, who’s been polling in this state for 25 years. He said candidates who do well in debates typically get a bump of a few points from it, but practically never lasts long.

    Plenty of candidates who underperformed on stage came out ahead on Election Day, he said, including, Barack Obama.

    “He often did not win those debates. He lost ground,” Madonna said. “But he ended up winning his elections twice, as did George Bush in 2004.”

    But Madonna says this year may be different, because the candidates evoke such strong reactions, and have exchanged such harsh words about each other.

    This debate could be seen by 100 million people, and anything can happen.

    “I don’t think you can rule out that there could be momentum out of this debate that could carry on into election day,” he said.

    Both Clinton and Trump, as well as their running mates and surrogates have been virtually setting up camp in Pennsylvania so far.  

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