Monday’s debate expected to polarize nation


Evan Pflugradt

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will meet on stage for the first of three presidential debates Monday night.

For 90 minutes, much of the nation will pause to view the first on-stage encounter between the two candidates. The debate is speculated to draw nearly 100 million viewers.

In 2012, the first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney drew just north of 67 million viewers.

According to polls by the New York Times, about 8 percent of registered voters remain undecided. Numerous national polls have Clinton and Trump divided at a tie, 45 percent apiece.

As of Sunday, The Washington Post had Clinton at a 2-point advantage in the general election, 49 to Trump’s 47 percent.

The first presidential debate of the general election is often the most treacherous for the candidates. Even with a presumed two-point advantage, Clinton’s corner should know better than to take this opportunity for granted.

While it may offer the most benefit, the first debate could offer the most harm to either candidate.

Blunders of the first face-off are speculated in every aspect — and could range from Clinton’s email scandals, to Trump’s recent Skittle’s stumble regarding immigration.

Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News anchor and moderator for the debate, will ask the candidates about “achieving prosperity,” “securing America” and “America’s direction.”

While Clinton’s campaign can plan responses for the topics, they’ll cautiously ponder arguably the biggest question — which version of Trump will show up Monday?

Trump has indicated that he will approach the debate as he has done throughout his campaign — instinctively, and with little direction.

“You’re going to have to feel it out when you’re out there,” Trump said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly last week. “She’s got to treat me with respect. I’m going to treat her with respect. I’d like to start off by saying that because that would be my intention.”

With little indication of what Trump to anticipate, Monday night, Clinton is best suited to focus on fashioning her argument, be it the only factor in her control.

Clinton will have to show America that she’s a trustworthy candidate, riddling Trump’s implications of her being sought as “crooked.”

Nearly 90 minutes of broadcast coverage could be enough for Clinton to straighten her record, and enough for Trump to allay misconceptions. Trump has toyed with the media, generating the majority of media coverage; but Clinton hasn’t stayed out of the public’s eye.

Clinton has dominated Trump in TV advertising by huge margins, even now that Trump’s campaign is buying ads. ABC News reported that Clinton will spend as much as 53 times more than Trump on television ads in the state of Florida.

Online Trump has been crushing the numbers. His campaign has spent $120 million in online advertising — $63 million through May and August.

General election debates have been televised since 1960, when Richard Nixon squared off against John F. Kennedy. Those who watched saw a nervous and slightly sweaty and unshaved Nixon.

Emotions will tell as much as words in this debate.

Despite blunders, in terms of a true winner-to-be-named, NBC News reports that voters rarely shift post-debate. Since 1992, there’s only been one election that looked to be relatively shifted by the debates — 2000.

In every other case, the candidates the led going into the first debate won on Election Day, NBC reported.

All major television networks and online streaming sites, including Facebook and Twitter, will broadcast coverage of the debate, which starts at 8 p.m. C/ST live from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.