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Ralston And Sebelius Break Down The Final Debate

(AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks off stage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump puts his notes away after the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.

The final debate of the 2016 presidential election is in the history books. 

With just a few weeks to go from Election Day and early voting in Nevada starting Saturday, voters got one last chance to listen to the candidates talk about issues, for the first part of the debate anyway.

Now that the debate is done, the question remains: how did the candidates' performance goes over in Nevada and did they help or hurt their parties' down ballot candidates?

KNPR's State of Nevada talked to regular political contributors Jon Ralston and Steve Sebelius, along with Dana Bash from CNN about the debate and how it really played in the Silver State. 


On Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway's comment about accepting the election results:

Bash: Her answer to the question will Donald Trump accept the results of the election was apparently what Donald Trump was supposed to say on the debate stage and it was the first sign of clean up that we saw. 

We saw it again... on the campaign trail from Donald Trump himself in Ohio, saying effectively, "Well yes, I'll accept it unless there is something I need to challenge," which it is my understanding what he was supposed to say last night.

Sebelius: It is one of the central issues I've been asking about this race which is how will Donald Trump extricate himself from this race, if he does not win. Remember, he's got a winning temperament. He knows how to win. All he does is win. We're going to be sick of winning, if he gets elected president. But if he doesn't win, well that's that's a whole other thing.

I note his comments today, "Oh, I won't challenge your results. I'll accept them - if I win."

Ralston: It's important because he's trying to undermine the very foundation of our republic and the people's faith that they can trust their elections. He's doing it, as he often does, without any evidence to back it up. And yet he just says things authoritatively: Widespread cases of voter fraud... He is doing the most divisive, dangerous things that you can mention.

I think he is sowing the kind of lack of faith in the Democratic process that no matter what happens there is going to be a repercussions after the election. I find it - even after 30 years of covering politics - quite frightening.

Do you think Trump helped his position in Nevada with his debate performance?

Ralston: It's hard to believe that he did anything last night that would have grown whatever his support is. He seems now to just generally reversing the old political axiom of politics being the art of addition and trying to subtract every demographic group that he possible can. 

In Nevada, the state is clearly slipping away from him. Unless, of course, and this is what some of these Trump folks say there are these millions or hundreds of thousands of people who are embarrassed to tell pollsters and the media that they're supporting Trump but will actually support Trump. And I don't just buy it.

Did anything happen during the debate last night or over the last couple of weeks that energized the Republicans in the state or did it demoralize them?

Sebelius: I would say that demoralize would be the proper response. The state Republican Party put out a statement after the debate last night, saying 'You could be proud of Donald Trump's debate performance.' I just don't know how that could be, given what happened. 

The only way I could see any energizing going on is if people buy into this idea that the media is all in for Hillary along with special interests and corporations and the big banks. And that they react to all of us saying that Hillary Clinton had a really good night by simply saying: 'Well that's just the liberal media and you can't trust them.'

Do you think that Joe Heck is going to lose because if Trump does poorly in Nevada it could cost him several votes?

Ralston: It could. It is hard to judge. The conventional wisdom has been for most of the election - and the Senate race has been a toss up almost from the beginning, and more money has been spent on the Senate race in outside spending than has ever been spent - if Hillary Clinton starts to get above five points in Nevada, that Joe Heck could be in trouble. That there could be enough of an undertow to pull Catherine Cortez Masto to victory. 

His handling of the disavowal of Trump and asking him to step down I think has hurt him with his base. One poll showed 14 percent of voters less likely to support him. Another poll said 34 percent, but even if you take the lower number that's devastating for him.   

If he loses, I think it will be Donald Trump who cost him the election. 

Jon Ralston, Reno Gazette-Journal columnist and analyst at KTNV; Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and host of Politics Now on KLAS; Dana Bash, political correspondent, CNN 

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.