Could the debates do for President Donald Trump what the conventions didn’t?
A USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll indicates many voters think that’s possible.
A greater share – 47% – predicted Trump will win the debates than the 41% who said Democratic candidate Joe Biden will.
That’s despite the fact that only 33% of respondents who watched at least some of the conventions said the political events made them more likely to support Trump; 37% said the conventions made them less likely.
Independents picked Trump over Biden as the likely winner of the debates by 10 percentage points: 47%-37%.
“Trump is gonna run all over Biden,” said Curtis Saffi, 38, an independent from Hampton, Georgia, who plans to vote for Biden. He expects a different outcome, however, in the vice presidential debate.
“Kamala Harris,” Saffi added, “she is gonna be all over (Mike) Pence.”
While 79% of Democrats predicted their presidential nominee will come out on top in the debates, 87% of Republicans said Trump will.
“I feel like it’s just gonna be a one-sided show,” said David Brockman, 38, a Trump supporter from Columbus, Indiana, who was among those polled.
Dana Carbonell, 35, a Democrat from Weehawken, New Jersey, said Biden will win if he “does a good job of factchecking Trump.”
Trump, she said, has “got his broken record of lies that he just keeps repeating.”
The first of the three presidential debates will be held Sept. 29.
The first 2016 debate between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton attracted 84 million viewers, the record for a presidential debate.
Large shares of voters have told Pew Research Center over the years that the debates were very or somewhat helpful in deciding who to vote for. But only 10% of those who voted in 2016 said they had definitely made up their minds “during or just after” the debates. Almost two-thirds said they had decided around the time of the conventions or even before.
Biden leads Trump by 50%-43% nationally in a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll conducted in the days following the conventions. It was one of a number of post-convention polls showing either a small bump for Trump or no bounce at all.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the parties conducted most of their conventions online rather than in the packed arenas of prior years.
Four out of 10 respondents to the USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll who had viewed the conventions thought this year’s version worked better. Three out of 10 thought the format was worse. The rest saw it as the same or had no opinion.
The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken Aug. 28-31 by landline and cell phone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points.