CLEVELAND, OHIO (VG) An aggressive tone with attacks both ways, a pressured president and a lot at stake. This is how experts believe that the first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be.
– Now Biden is ahead of the polls, so a really bad performance of him will be very unfortunate at this stage of the election campaign, but then you can say the same about Trump. What is certain is that a lot is at stake for both candidates, and they probably both have more to lose in the debate than in winning it, says professor and debate expert Alan Schroeder at Northeastern University.
His colleague at the University of Missouri, Professor Mitchell S. McKinney, points out a perhaps unproven but potentially unfortunate strategy from Donald Trump. As the president has talked down Joe Biden’s abilities to debate, expectations of him from many will be low.
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– Actually, he just needs to show up and conduct these debates in a fairly straightforward way. But if he makes a mistake, for example, says something wrong that makes it possible to question his cognitive abilities, then for many it will be able to reinforce the impression Trump has tried to create of him, McKinney says.
The night’s debate can be watched on VGTV from 3 o’clock, and on Wednesday morning there will be a broadcast with highlights and reactions – from both voters in Ohio and experts. In addition, VG’s commentators are rolling the dice in the podcast “Giæver og gjengen”.
We warm up from 9.30 pm – follow the broadcast here:
VG is in place in Cleveland, Ohio, where there will be a somewhat different debate as a result of the corona pandemic. There will be far fewer spectators in the hall, no handshake and there will also be no supporters coming into the press room to tell journalists exactly why their candidate crushed the opponent after the debate is over.
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– Very high level of conflict
The two experts VG has spoken to expect a tough debate. Schroeder points out that both candidates have previously shown that they are willing to run an aggressive style. Trump against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden as vice presidential candidate against Paul Ryan in 2012.
Among other things, McKinney has worked as a consultant for The Commission on Presidential Debates, which is the party-independent group that organizes the presidential debates. He believes the debates between Trump and Clinton were the most conflict- and attack-oriented in history.
– Most of these attacks, with the use of nicknames, for example, came from Trump. I think we must expect that this year’s debates will also maintain a very high level of conflict and be full of attacks, says the professor.
He believes Biden, who he describes as more reserved and concerned with showing care and empathy, must take care not to be completely run over.
– He must be aggressive in the duel, otherwise he risks falling into Trump’s trap that he is “Sleepy Joe”, McKinney says.
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This is what they need to debate
The debate is led by Fox News presenter Chris Wallace. During the 90-minute debate, they will cover six topics:
The candidates’ political leaflets, the corona pandemic, the Supreme Court – where Donald Trump this weekend announced his candidacy for the vacant seat -, the economy, racial issues and violent demonstrations, and the integrity of the election itself. Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed recently that he does not believe the Democrats and Biden can win without election fraud.
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In addition, many expect that the New York Times’ tax revelation about Donald Trump will be a topic.
“It will be exciting to see how Trump will explain his actions in many of the difficult issues that plague the American people now,” McKinney said.
– I expect Trump to be Trump. It will be the same old dance where he tells how amazing he is, how miserable his opponents are and that nothing negative that has happened is his fault, says Schroeder.
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Can be crucial
But no matter who gets the best out of the debates, Alan Schroeder does not have much faith that they will move many voters. He believes this is true in every election campaign, because most people know the candidates well before the debates start, but extra true this year.
– In 2020, there are virtually no voters who have not decided at this time, so this is mostly about mobilizing their own supporters and making sure that they actually go and vote, the professor says.
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Mitchell S. McKinney says that surveys he has conducted show that between 90 and 95 percent of those who watch the debate already know who to vote for. Nevertheless, he believes that the 3 to 5 percent who normally decide based on the debates can be very important to get on their side.
– In an election where opinion polls show that there is almost a dead heat in several important tipping states, being able to convince only 2-3 percent of viewers can have consequences for the outcome of the entire election, he believes.
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