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Gallup Poll: One Quarter of Americans Expect Debate to Influence Election

Aired October 3, 2000 - 1:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bush and Gore will have a Super Bowl- sized audience hanging on their every syllable, but some folks will watch more closely than others, and some plan to tune out entirely.

Frank Newport joins us, now, from the Gallup studio in Princeton, New Jersey, with a breakdown of debate devotees.

Hello, there.

FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Indeed, it would be shocking if people don't watch or watch baseball, but we can tell you that a lot of people will.

Let's look at our likely voter population. Crudely, that might be 100 million Americans. Of that group, when we ask them how likely are you to watch the debate, about 63 percent said they were very likely to watch the debate, 20 percent somewhat likely. So, that translates into the 60 million-figure plus that we've been hearing about.

Now, who is likely to watch? Well the Democrats and the Republicans are about equal, no real bias there. Sixty-five, 67 percent very likely to watch. Independents, who, in some ways, are the ones that these guys need to talk to, because their more likely to change their minds, a little less likely to be interested in the debate, but still, you can see above a majority very likely to want to watch.

There is an age skew. This isn't surprising for those of us who study politics. The older you are, the more involved in the system you are. This is by age, who is going to watch. Notice, among 18- 29s, unfortunately, among likely voter, less than half say they are very likely to watch tonight.

Will the debates make a difference? You heard that spokesperson, a minute ago, saying shrewdly, sometimes yes, sometimes no, all the alternatives exhausted there. We asked people in '92: Will they make a difference? Before the debates, about a quarter said yes. We just asked it again this year. About a quarter say yes. So, a quarter admit they are looking for the debates to make the difference.

And finally, after the debates in 1992, those were an important year with Perot in there, we said: Did the debates make a difference? Fourteen percent said yes. That's a seemingly, Natalie, slow, low number, but 14 percent, when the race is close, can really make a difference. That's where the public stands.

Back to you, Natalie.

ALLEN: Frank Newport, thanks for watching the numbers, Frank.

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