Politics & Polls #12: All About Debates

Sep 22 2016
By Julian Zelizer & Sam Wang (Produced by B. Rose Kelly and Bonelys Rosado)
Source Woodrow Wilson School

The presidential election is at a crossroads as the race is beginning to tighten between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Now, we’re entering a season of debates, with the first one kicking off Monday, Sept. 26, at 9 p.m. from Hofstra University in New York.

Some predict this first debate could be the most-viewed in our history. But how might these debates influence voters? What impact will the debates have when the polls suggest that the race has really tightened in many of the battleground states? Will they have the capacity to remake the race? And, more broadly, what role have debates played throughout history?
Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss this and more in episode 12 of Politics & Polls.


Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 
Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. In 2012, his statistical analysis correctly predicted the presidential vote outcome in 49 of 50 states. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum and autism.