The first presidential debate is around the corner and pretty much everyone you know will be watching it. The Super Bowl-esque hype building up before the night will only be surpassed by the length and depth of commentary after it. The biggest questions are: will style win over substance, will the moderators win over the crowd and will the candidates’ blows hit below the belt? Many people are saying that this debate will be the decider for them on Election Day, but do the debates generally matter that much, you ask? Well yes and no. Many voters have already made their decision, but debates are a good opportunity to hear the candidates’ policies in more depth and with more accountability than before. And, as the primaries demonstrated, a good or bad debate performance can potentially make or break a campaign.
So what will they be talking about? Everything you expect: immigration, terrorism, foreign policy, the economy and a bunch of other things. Trump will probably have to answer for his Muslim ban and Mexican wall and Clinton will probably have to explain her support of the Iraq invasion and her private email server again. Why should you care? Because some policy details might slip out of Donald’s mouth and some zingers might come out of Hillary’s, and voters are thirsty for entertainment. But either way there will probably be plenty of opportunities for copious drinking games.
Unfortunately the debate stage will not start out as an even playing field. Clinton will be fighting a disadvantage because the media has already cast her as the experienced and serious politician, so there are a lot of expectations to live up to. Thus underdog Trump will only have to perform marginally better than expected to be considered the debate “winner”. Regardless, Trump’s showmanship, combined with his dazzling ability to evade answering questions, will give him a style-over-substance edge, especially in contrast with Clinton’s gravitas. But this is the first and maybe the only chance to watch the candidates go head to head, and there’s less than 50 days to go until the Big Vote.
Feel like you have no idea what either candidate stands for? Movie for your mystified mood: Lost in Translation