First debate descends into chaos as Trump and Biden exchange attacks


In an election where almost everyone says they’ve already made up their minds, few debate watchers on Tuesday say they are trying to decide who to vote for. Instead, they’re rooting for their candidate, looking to see how they do, and they’re also playing political consultant, offering some views on debate strategy for their candidates. CBS News surveyed a representative group of likely voters who say they plan to watch tonight.

Voters who plan to watch say they are tuning in primarily to see how their favorite candidate does, but they also have some views on debate strategy for their candidate.

Both Biden and Trump voters want their candidates to explain their plans and inspire confidence. Both items are at the top of the list when asked what their candidate should do tonight. This is the case for both Biden’s and Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Many of Biden’s voters think he needs to avoid mistakes tonight. Fifty-seven percent of Biden’s supporters say he should avoid mistakes, by comparison, just 40% of  Mr. Trump’s voters say that about their candidate.


CBS News

Mr. Trump’s backers (33%) are twice as likely as Biden’s (14%) to say their candidate needs to “be entertaining.”

Showing a more personal side is important too. Majorities of each candidate’s supporters say their candidate should “show who he is as a person” — more of Biden’s voters feel he needs to do that than Trump’s voters think their candidate does.


CBS News

While most voters who plan to watch tonight are doing so to see how their candidate performs, many say they are tuning in “just for the entertainment about it.” Few — just 6% — say they are watching because they are still deciding who to vote for.


CBS News

This CBS News survey of 7,447 registered voters, including 4,622 likely voters who plan to watch the debate, was conducted by YouGov between September 25-28, 2020.

The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on voter registration lists, the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as 2016 Presidential vote. The margin of error is +/- 1.8 pts.

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