What can we expect from tonight’s first presidential debate?

26 September 2016   
What can we expect from tonight’s first presidential debate?

CNN claimed that it might be the greatest political show on Earth. The New York Times wrote that it is one of the most highly anticipated debates in American history. Needless to say, tonight’s matchup between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump has generated an immense amount of political hype and excitement, as “the ultimate convergence of celebrity and politics” is just hours away.

Major polling initiatives show a presidential race that is virtually tied. Expert pollster Nate Silver, who accurately predicted the past two elections, has said that the race is far tighter than other pollsters are leading the public to believe. As such, tonight’s debate is crucial for both candidates as well as the American people using the 90-minute forum to make a more informed decision in the voting booth.

Officials close to the Clinton campaign say that she has been hitting the books off the campaign trail, studying crucial policy details and engaging in mock debates to ready herself for tonight’s showing. Trump, on the other hand, has continued campaigning aggressively and has avoided traditional debate preparations. He has, though, spent some time with his advisers discussing some policy. This strategy strikes many as odd, seeing that Clinton has spent more than three decades in public policy, while Trump has only spent the past several months as a (potential) politician. “Imagine the practice and the training of 13 years of reality television on 'The Apprentice' and then imagine Hillary's experience reading hundreds of papers," said Newt Gingrich, defending Trump’s strategy.

There has been substantial debate among politicos as to the role the moderators should play in tonight’s forum in New York. Some claim that it is absolutely crucial for the moderators to correct unsubstantiated statements made by either candidate, essentially to fact-check and ensure that neither Trump nor Clinton is able to get away with delivering false information on stage. Others, however, claim that the moderators should not play such a role. This will have a substantial effect on the outcome of the debate, seeing that Trump has been known to over-estimate certain statistics and lie about occurrences that never took place.

As it pertains to the follow-up and reactions to the debate, which are often more important than the debate itself, Politico explains that Trump has the upper-hand. The Democratic Party has pinned Trump as the narcissistic, bombastic, erratic candidate that has a short temper and dearth of policy knowledge. Accordingly, he need only maintain a level head and not egregiously misstep on policy details to push back against the Democrats’ claims. Hillary, on the other hand, has much more work to do. She must show the American people that she is trustworthy and responsive in addition to maintaining a perfect performance with respect to policy know-how.

With just hours before tonight’s event, and less than six weeks until Election Day, the stakes could not be higher.

What are you expecting to see at tonight’s presidential debate?