The aftermath of the first presidential debate could be about memorable zingers and gaffes, according to Dr. Dianne Bystrom, the Director of Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. Bystrom believes debates are about more than that, of course, for voters. But Bystrom said one-liners can carry over in voters’ memories. They also serve as some of the final major impressions the candidates can make. She said about debates, “They kind of freeze the campaign. After the debates, there’s almost no chance for either candidate to move the needle. So this is kind of the last hoorah as far as having an impact on what people are thinking.”
Bystrom thinks the debates are also a chance to firm up a candidate’s likability. She said, “They also have to look like the type of guy you want to have a beer with tomorrow. So they have to relate to the public on a common man basis and also show they’re presidential and a leader.”
Bystrom believes with so few voters considering themselves undecided, the debates may serve more as a chance to increase enthusiasm for the candidates’ party supporters.