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. Ronald Reagan, 1980 Next » 3 of 6 « Prev
Associated Press
Ronald Reagan entered into the 1980 debate against Jimmy Carter with a two-point lead a week before the election. After the debate, 44 percent considered Reagan to be the victor, while 26 percent said Carter won.

Gallup reports that without comparable pre- and post-debate registered voter figures on presidential preference, it's unclear what sort of impact the 1980 debate had, but since Reagan won the election by nearly 10 percentage points, "it is not likely to have been a determining factor."

Reagan had a five-point lead in the polls on the day of the debate or in the two days afterward, Sides wrote, meaning, "the debate seemed to matter, but it mainly nudged Reagan even further toward victory."

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