Heading into Election Day, many questions remain unanswered

By Charles Kerr

In the third and final presidential debate earlier this week, the two candidates were able to stay on the given policy issues for just around 70 percent of the total screen time, an analysis of their debate time shows.

The analysis was conducted by using a split timer on the debate and keeping track of how long the candidates spoke about each policy issue raised.

The topics listed for the debate were, “debts and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and fitness to be president.”

Of the 92 total minutes of debate — moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace — the candidates spent 60 minutes discussing various policy issues. Of the 32 “off-topic/non-policy related” minutes, the ‘fitness to be president’ topic took up 22 minutes, and 10 minutes were spent on attacks regarding personal scandals and their respective defenses to allegations. In that time Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of being a “puppet of Russia,” while Trump fired back at Clinton calling her a “nasty woman.”

The prevailing takeaway by major media outlets in post-debate coverage was, aside from the personal attacks and generally hostile environment, that Donald Trump would not promise to “absolutely accept” the results of the election.

The Economist called Trump’s response a lack of respect for the country’s democratic tradition, and said that “he blew it,” regarding convincing moderates he is fit to be president.

Elsewhere, there was quibbling over issues such as Hillary Clinton’s accusations that Trump has endorsed Russian espionage and infiltration of the election, and Donald Trump’s claims that Clinton and President Obama are on camera inciting violence at Trump’s campaign events.

But in terms of the debate itself, in the 60 minutes discussing presidential policy, neither candidate revealed any new specifics regarding the implementation of their policies.

The Wall Street Journal’s list of policy issues that were left undiscussed included Brexit, nuclear tests, military funding, NSA, civil unrest, interest rates and Wall Street accountability.


Charles Kerr is a student reporter at Stanford University.