Did the last presidential debate change East Tennessee voters’ decisions?

Some don't care Trump will not commit to accepting election results

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – During the last presidential debate on Wednesday night, Donald Trump did not commit to accepting the election results. He clarified that position on Thursday afternoon.

“I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win,” said Donald Trump at a campaign rally.

WATE 6 On Your Side went to one polling location to see how voters felt about Trump’s position. Many Knox County voters were not bothered by it.

“I guess that is his right if he wants to or not,” said one voter.

Some voters said other candidates have done something similar. They referenced Al Gore not accepting the election results during his candidacy when votes were recounted in Florida in 2000.

Previous story: Trump mocks critics: ‘I’ll accept election results – if I win’

Trump has frequently said that the election is “rigged.” Some of his supporters in Knox County believed he might be right. Many of them said voter fraud could change the results of this election.

“Anything is possible anymore with computers,” said one voter.

Richard Pacelle, the head of the political science department at the University of Tennessee, said it is unlikely that voter fraud could “rig” the election.

“That is a massive amount of voter fraud. We are talking about 3.5 million voters. We are talking about some ability to be able to do that without anybody noticing,” said Pacelle.

Pacelle said less than one percent of voter fraud happens in this country.

“Pushing the envelope quite a bit. I think that is going to serve him well,” said Pacelle.

However, voters do not seem to be changing their decision because of Trump’s comment.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s what the electors vote for. I don’t care if he accepts it or not,” said a Knox County voter.

Several lawmakers from Tennessee also commented on the issue.

“It is imperative that Donald Trump clearly state that he will accept the results of the election when complete,” said Sen. Bob Corker in a tweet.

“The most conspicuous and enduring symbol of the American democracy is the freedom to vote for our leaders and the restraint to respect the results. When you run for public office, you accept the verdict of the voters,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander.

“I think what Donald Trump has in mind is that he may have to do what Senator Gore did in 2000 if we end up with a close election in some states,” said Rep. Jimmy Duncan.

Last presidential debate not impacting voters’ decision at polls

Voters were going to the polls on Thursday, one day after the last presidential debate. However, the debate did not have much impact on many voters’ choice for President.

“Last night just pretty cemented what my opinion was going to be,” said a voter.

Previous story: Top moments from the final presidential debate

Wednesday night’s debate was a very important one for Donald Trump, said Richard Pacelle, the head of the political science department at UT.

“Donald trump is behind and this is his last chance three weeks before the election to talk to the whole public,” said Pacelle.

However, Pacelle said Trump’s performance last night was not enough to win the election.

“Trump is largely playing to his base and he really needs to expand that,” said Pacelle.

Many Knox County voters WATE 6 On Your Side spoke to said last night’s debate did not influence their decision today.

“I had pretty much decided who we were going to vote on,” said one voter.

Some of these voters decided who they were going to vote for months ago. Some decided not to watch the debates at all because they believed the candidates were not talking about anything substantive.

“Not happy with it, I didn’t watch the other two,” said one voter.

Few were so unhappy about the debates that they voted third party.

“So uncivil to each other that they won’t even shake hands. It has affected my thoughts on this very heavily,” said a voter.

Pacelle said Trump needed to do something bigger to make an impact on voters after the last debate.

“He needed something dramatic to jolt and change the race. He didn’t get it so far and I’m not sure what is out there he can do,” said Pacelle.

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