MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — It’s the day after the third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Las Vegas. Candidate Trump said he will not commit to accepting the outcome of the election - a position that has prompted angry and frustrated responses from many, but puzzlement from political scientists as they try to imagine what, if any, strategy could be driving Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

This week Middlebury political scientists Matt Dickinson and Bert Johnson look at how the three debates have shaped public discourse on the election. Once again, they point out, the Republican nominee has said something to create a distraction from substantive issues that could have helped his polling numbers. They also discuss the sticky situation House Speaker Paul Ryan finds himself in, having distanced himself from Trump, yet needing a high Republican turnout to help down-ballot candidates win their races and hold on to majorities in the House and Senate.

Dickinson writes the blog Presidential Power and is frequently quoted in the national news media. He often live tweets political events at @MattDickinson44. Johnson, also a regular in the national media, tweets at @bnjohns.

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