With the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump now in the rear-view mirror, pundits and analysts will busy themselves declaring a winner.
But as Jules Suzdaltsev explains in today's Seeker Daily report, history suggests that presidential debates don't have much of an influence on presidential elections.
In one particularly ambitious study, researchers looked at every available poll from 1952 through 2008 to assess the ultimate impact of debate performances. Only one candidate in all that time seemed to suffer significantly in the polls from a poor debate showing -- Jimmy Carter in 1976. Ironically, he went on to win the election that year.
In fact, multiple studies of polling from before and after general election debates show that they trigger little or no change in the opinions of voters -- at least as gauged by election results. Debates do, however, tend to nudge the polls in the days immediately following. Researchers suggest that this shift actually has less to do with policy positions and more to do with how candidates come off to voters generally.