A survey by the MU Political Communication Institute showed students said they were 10 percent more likely to vote after watching a televised debate between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

The Political Communication Institute at MU gathered 70 students last night at Switzler Hall to study how their perception about the Senate candidates changed after watching the debate. Participants were surveyed before and after the debate, according to Josh Bramlett, a research associate in the MU Department of Communication.

Before the debate, 57 percent of the participants said they were likely to vote. After, that grew to 67 percent, according to a news release from the MU News Bureau.

“It’s a good thing for civic engagement,” Bramlett said.

After the debate, students’ likelihood of voting for Hawley increased by 18 percent and McCaskill’s support increased by 15 percent. While 49 percent of the students were undecided before the debate, only 16 percent said they still hadn’t made up their minds after it, according to the release.

Out of the 70 participants, 41 percent identified themselves as Republicans, 41 percent as Democrats, and 17 percent as independents. Having an equal number from both parties was a coincidence, Bramlett said.

Bramlett said he would have preferred more than 100 participants, but said 70 is still a good number. Many more students were initially recruited for the study, but Homecoming may have been a factor..

The survey’s results haven’t been fully analyzed yet, but an initial analysis shows the participants thought Hawley outperformed his opponent.

Surveyors rated candidates on a temperature-like, feeling scale between 0 and 100. Zero meant very cold and 100 meant very warm, or total support for the candidate. Before the debate, McCaskill was rated at 41 and Hawley at 49. After the debate, Hawley’s support jumped 11 points, and McCaskill’s went up 7 points, Bramlett said.

After the debate, respondents were asked about who won. Fifty-one percent of the respondents said Hawley, 33 percent said McCaskill, and 16 percent said neither won.

“It’s important to know that while the majority of participants thought Hawley won the debate, both candidates improved their standing among the college students,” Bramlett said.

The Political Communications Institute has been doing debate surveys since 2000. In both presidential and Senate debates, the number of undecided voters went down after watching the debate, Bramlett said.


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