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Despite a large body of research, little is known about the ways in which viewers react to different kinds of statements during televised debates nor about the degree to which these short-term reactions influence postdebate opinions. Taking the second televised debate in the 2002 German national election as an example, we address both of these questions. We identify the most unifying and polarizing statements and connect immediate reactions during the debate to postdebate verdicts on an individual level of analysis. Our results show that commonplaces and acclaims met unanimous support among audience members with different political predispositions. Attacks and statements in which the candidates presented factual evidence or specified their political plans tended to polarize supporters of the respective candidates. Moreover, short-term reactions had an independent impact on postdebate verdicts even when political predispositions and expectations were controlled.