Half of America’s likely voters will rely on the presidential debates to help them make their choice between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday.
The results show the stakes for the White House rivals as they prepare to face off on Monday at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, for their first of three one-on-one debates, a prime-time TV spectacle expected to draw a Super Bowl-sized audience of 100 million Americans.
Some 50 percent of likely voters think the debates will help inform their decision of whom to support, including 10 percent who say they are not currently leaning either way, according to the opinion poll.
Some 39 percent said the debates will not help, and 11 percent said they did not know how the debates would affect them.
In a strong signal that most viewers will also be hoping the debates bring clarity, some 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate says something that is untrue. That included 73 percent of people who identified themselves as Trump supporters and 82 percent of those who said they back Clinton, according to the results.
“It helps the audience, particularly me, to recognize what’s bull crap and what’s real,” said Harvey Leven, 63, a teacher from Farmington Hills, Michigan. “It’s easy for the candidates to quote a statistic and people accept it.”
Clinton currently leads in most national polls and holds critical advantages in key swing states like Ohio and North Carolina. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll finds Clinton leading Trump nationally by 4 percentage points.
Clinton had seen her popularity dip in recent weeks after more questions arose about her family foundation and the use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.