Key things Marquette Law Poll director will be looking for during GOP debate
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With the first Republican presidential debate slated for Wednesday in Milwaukee, Marquette University has been looking at who is the favorite among voters.
Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said he will be looking out for some key things in the debate.
“The number one thing is we are always listening to the issues the candidates are talking about so we can ask the public what they think about the issues. I hope a small but clearly defined set of issues emerge from the debate so I can ask people about that,” said Franklin.
Franklin says the next poll taken will be in October, later in the fall campaign when possibly the candidate list will be narrowed down. The pollster says debates in the primary season potentially swing voters more than one during the general election when minds may already be made up.
“We’ve actually seen relatively little evidence that the debate dramatically changes races,” Franklin said. “We are mostly polling around debates during a fall campaign where it’s a Democrat vs a Republican and an awful lot of people have already made up their minds so debates don’t matter as much. But I think in the primary season, it’s people within the party tuning in to see if there’s somebody there that they haven’t paid attention to that they might. And I think that’s where people in the single digits now have the opportunity to make that first impression and boost.”
According to Marquette’s recent polls, Franklin says for Wednesday’s debate, voters want to hear about certain issues depending on their party. He says Democrats tend to want to hear about gun control and abortion while Republicans focus on things like border patrol and trade. He says inflation will be a hot topic on both sides.
Another big talking point is front-runner Donald Trump announcing he will not be participating. Franklin says that will likely drive viewership of the debate down, but it creates a stronger possibility another candidate can make a run in the polls.
“It is an opportunity, a huge opportunity, if you can pull it off. It’s also the downside risk that if you go on that stage and fail to get any attention, that helps your demise that can be rapid even this early in the process,” says Franklin.
The first Republican presidential debate starts at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
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