Will the first debate be a game changer? History says, not so much

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3 2012 1:50 p.m. MDT

Jimmy Carter vs. Gerald Ford, 1976 Next » 2 of 6 « Prev
Associated Press
In a debate against Jimmy Carter in 1976, Gerald Ford said, "I don't believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union." The Washington Post called it a "costly debate misstep" in its list of the 10 most memorable moments in presidential debates.

However, Sides wrote, none of the debate viewers interviewed in one poll the night of the debate mentioned the statement when asked what each candidate had done well or poorly.

During the campaign, Carter lost a substantial lead over Ford, Gallup reported. He ultimately won the race with a two-point margin of victory.

"Carter's downward slide during the fall campaign seems to belie that this debate gaffe did much lasting harm," Erikson and Wlezien said.

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