October 5, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – To assist journalists covering Tuesday night’s presidential debate, SMU election experts provided real-time insights throughout the evening. In addition, Journalism Professor Jake Batsell was interviewed live by the local Fox News affiliate. For more political experts, click here.
RATING THE DEBATE
AND THE WINNER IS…
On who won…
- “Pence got stronger as this debate went on. I don’t think Kaine had quite the details to overcome his charges. Both debated well. Kaine was pushed back into repetitive talking points. Pence made some smart tactical concessions to Kaine at the start of this debate, such as one on police and one on foreign policy.”
Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.
WHEN THE DEBATE TURNED TO RELIGION
On Kaine’s unexpected death penalty answer…
- “Very good answer from Kaine on the death penalty. It surprised me that he chose that issue, but it’s a smart choice – it shows him actually ignoring his faith to take conservative action.”
On the religious debate at the end…
- “Pence wants to say that Kaine has sold out his faith, but he’s too nice to go there. The winner of the religion question depends on the audience. Each candidate resonated well with his base.”
On who won the debate…
- “Pence was better. He was smoother and more likeable. He was strongest when he wasn’t talking about Trump. He made a great personal impression, but maybe less so for the ticket as a whole.”
Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science with specific expertise in politics and religion.
EACH CANDIDATE SCORES POINTS, BUT VOTERS WON’T BE SWAYED
On whether either candidate won the debate…
- “Vice presidential debates, even more so than presidential debates, aren’t about winning or losing, but about creating good moments. Pence was very substantive and composed and for the most part did not rise to the bait to defend some of what Trump has said that is indefensible. To the famous test, it says if you watch the debate with the sound off, who would you say won? I bet Pence looked like the winner. But then again, turning the sound off leaves out him denying Trump ever said some of the things he has, in fact, said.”
- “As for Tim Kaine, he came in a bit overhyped, seeming like he had a strategy of attack, but didn’t quite know how to put it in play. When he started to find his groove and was able to lay out key lines of concern for voters about taxes and Trump’s temperament, I think that worked.
- “The best segment and the most thoughtful segment of the night was the abortion exchange. I doubt this does much to move any poll numbers, though. People just want to see the heavyweights in the ring against on Sunday.”
Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts.
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