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Will Biden drop in polls after first debate?


According to the New York Times,

President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. will debate with a single moderator at each of their three matchups, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Wednesday, September 2.

The first debate of the general election, on Sept. 29, will be moderated by the “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace. Mr. Wallace received high marks for his debut debate in 2016 and is known for his sharp interviewing style.

Joe Biden, 77, is the oldest major party nominee in US history, and his opponents have claimed that he is not as mentally sharp as he once was. Indeed, a June 2020 Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey found that 38% of likely U.S. voters think Biden is suffering from some form of dementia. This has led some to question whether the debates between Trump and Biden could be a turning point in the election campaign.

Trump currently (September 4) trails Biden in the 538 polling average by 7.4%; Biden has 50.4% in the polling average, and Trump is on 43%.

Politico reports that Trump's advisers are watching Biden closely and "studying Biden’s idiosyncrasies to identify ways to trip him up on the debate stage."

Will Biden drop by at least 5 percentage points in the polls after the first debate?

For a positive resolution, Biden's polling average as reported by 538 must drop by at least five full percentage points relative to the number reported as of 00:00 on September 29, the day the first debate is to take place, before 00:00 on October 14, both dates in Eastern Time.

For example, if Biden has 48.5% in the polling average on September 29, he must drop to 43.5% or lower before October 14 for a positive resolution.

Note that this question does not ask if Biden will finish that period with a 5-point drop in the polls; it resolves positively if Biden ever drops 5 points or more between September 29 and October 14, even if he recovers before October 14.

This question is conditional on the first debate between Trump and Biden actually taking place. If it does not, the question resolves ambiguously. The question also resolves ambiguously if 538 fails to report a polling average figure over the relevant time period.

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