YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Now that the long-awaited first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is over, Youngstown State University Political Science Chair Paul Sracic says the two candidates have a lot of work to do shoring up their shortcomings.
Sracic says Trump needs to focus on the personality issues, some of which have dogged him from the beginning of the campaign.
“The birther question, that’s going to keep coming up. His misogynistic statements about women that came up in the Republican debates, it’s going to come up again.”
For Clinton, Sracic thinks she needs to address problems with her stance on the economy and trade.
“That’s been her weak point. Trade, [Trans-Pacific Partnership], [North American Free Trade Agreement], and she’s gotta be ready for that and come up with an answer for that,” he said.
With the next debate in Saint Louis coming just days before early voting begins in Ohio, party leaders say candidates will also be hoping to lure undecided voters off the fence by talking about the economy.
“What we’re seeing this year is kind of a record number of undecided voters, which I think that’s why people think the debates are more important this year,” Sracic said.
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair Dave Betras says the person who will win the election will have a plan.
“The person that can lay out who is going to enrich the middle class.”
Mahoning County Republican Party Chair Mark Munroe says there are still people who haven’t engaged in the election process yet.
“They’re just now beginning to think about the process. I know it’s hard to believe those people are out there.”
Sracic wonders if it’s not more important for the candidates to make sure their core supporters actually get out and vote, thinking the undecided voters will eventually take care of themselves.
“Turning out your own voters than pursuing some of the individuals who may simply not vote, particularly in this election, not liking either choice,” he said.
This makes turnout over the next month and a half even more crucial.
“Some people think it’s going to be high because Trump’s excited some new voters to come in. Others think it’s going to be low because they’re both so disliked, that it’ll sort of drive down turnout. People will say, ‘I don’t want to vote for either one of these people,'” Sracic said.
The next debate will be on October 9, less than two weeks away.