Watch live (due to begin at 2100ET):
With only around 6% of voters reportedly undecided, one wonders just how much this matters… but hey the TV ratings will be through the roof.
The bar for Biden to beat expectations is low (anything other than falling asleep may be perceived as a win).
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‘Who wants to live forever’ in the annals of US history?
That is the question we hope to get closer to answering as tonight’s Presidential debate brings Joe Biden and Donald Trump the closest together since the COVID lockdowns began.
Biden and Trump are scheduled to face off at 9pmET at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Matt Taibbi warns that the potential for this event to spiral out of control and descend into an Ali-Frazier-Studio-Brawl situation is significantly higher than in any major party debate before, light years beyond even the Trump-Clinton situation.
Trump and Biden are each almost guaranteed to go after one another’s children. Even if Trump somehow doesn’t call Biden a drug-addled dummy, or challenge him to remember what state he’s in, Wallace could easily bring it up and goad Trump into doubling down.
Would we be surprised by something like, “Joe hasn’t had a hard-on in thirty years?” We would not.
Similarly, would we be shocked if Biden’s brain malfunctioned mid-insult and said something like, “Answer that, you stupid fat un-American bastard!” No, we wouldn’t.
Trump has a history of breathing down his opponent’s collar, while Biden has a long record of jamming his bony Creepshow-finger in the sternums of people who challenge him — hell, he does it to people who like him. He nibbled his wife’s finger onstage and is on record talking about fighting people with bicycle chains. Trump has been known to spray water bottles around at the podium and go after wives and mothers of political opponents.
These are weird, unstable dudes, in a super-charged environment, on live TV.
The moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, chose the following six topics for the candidates to answer questions on.
Race and Violence In Our Cities
The Candidates’ Track Records
The Integrity of the Election
The Supreme Court
Each topic will be tackled for 15 minutes.
The debate is slated to go on for 90 minutes.
As with every debate, there will be plenty of spinning and pivoting from the candidates. And what if they say something that simply isn’t true? What will Wallace do?
Poynter’s Tom Davis notes that Wallace has turned down all interview requests leading up to tonight’s debate, but as The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum notes in his debate preview, Wallace sees himself as a facilitator, not a fact-checker.
Before moderating a debate in 2016 between Trump and Hillary Clinton — a job he was widely praised for — Wallace said, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad.”
That’s also what debate commission co-chairman Frank Fahrenkopf said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday — that the moderator is not there to fact-check the candidates.
It is the job of the networks and other news organizations to fact check. However, don’t expect to see the networks fact-checking in real time on your TV screen as the debate is ongoing. The networks will save that for their post-debate coverage.
Remember, at the end of the day, “there can be only one!”
And maybe – as Deutsche notes – being “the one” tonight may not be the best plan…
In fact, in the last 10 elections with debate reaction data stretching back to 1976, only 2 candidates who were perceived to have won the first debate went on to win the election.
If you’re a gambling man (woman or other)…
And because we all deserve a laugh, here’s Babylon Bee:
CNN Pre-Debate Poll Shows Biden Clearly Won Debate
In a highly accurate and scientific CNN poll taken pre-debate, presidential candidate Joe Biden has had a clear win over incumbent President Donald Trump, with 98% saying Biden won the debate tonight and only 2% saying Trump won.
“Biden just dominated Trump with his very non-senile performance,” said pundit Jacob Ingram. “Or at least that’s what everyone knows is going to happen.”
The poll sampled smart people who are also attractive and cool, and it’s very clear that those people all think Biden is great and have already awarded him the win in tonight’s debate against the dumb and abrasive Trump.
“With such a clear and decisive win, there’s really no reason to even have the debate,” said Biden campaign staffer Lucas Mathis. “That would only distract from how great Biden is doing. And ruin his naps.”
The Trump campaign has denounced the poll as “fake news,” even though the poll was made using numbers and a computer which are common instruments of science.
It is unclear if the actual debate tonight could affect the poll results, but most experts expect that it will not.
Watch live (due to begin at 2100ET):
But, as Poynter.org’s Tom Davis asks, “Does it even matter?”
Two things about tonight’s debate. Expect huge television numbers. And yet don’t expect it to sway many voters.
The first Trump-Clinton debate in 2016 drew a whopping TV audience of 84 million, making it the most-watched presidential debate ever. That many people could watch tonight’s debate, although not all on TV. Streaming services and views on websites could make up a sizable portion of the audience.
But will it make a difference among voters? The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum points to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that shows that 70% of voters say the debates likely would not influence their vote. In that case, you wonder if some will not watch simply because they are stressed out or just plain tired of divisive politics.
Meanwhile, a new NBCLX/YouGov poll shows that while Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats for their preferred candidate to say whatever is necessary to “win” a debate, 83% of those polled (3,190 Americans) prefer that candidates always tell the truth in a debate.
I do expect a big audience tonight, even if it won’t change many minds. Why? Partly for viewers to feel validated by their candidate and partly because, hey, it’s Trump vs. Biden for the first time on TV.
Watch Useful Idiots host Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi moderating a livestreamed debate-drinking game:
The rules are simple:
Drink THE FIRST TIME:
Biden begins a sentence with, “Look.”
Biden brings up Trump’s taxes, or “$750.”
Trump mentions “Hunter.” Double-shot if he gives him a nickname, like “Crack-boy.”
Drink EVERY TIME:
Biden mentions “Obama” or the “Obama-Biden administration.”
Biden says, “United States of America.”
Trump calls Biden a radical leftist. Double if he references the “Bernie-Biden left” or some iteration thereof.
Trump mocks Biden for being mentally impaired or lost without a teleprompter.
Biden gives up his time before it’s up, a.k.a. the “Check, please!” rule.
Biden invokes, “C’mon, Man,” “Malarkey,” “Scranton,” “Existential threat,” “Soul of the Nation,” or “I’m the guy that…”
Trump brings up “ballots,” “fake news,” “Ilhan Omar,” “career politician,” “Get Trump,” “hoax,” “Sleepy,” or the awesomeness of police.
Biden brings up the loss of any of his family members. Double if Trump steers this moment in an inappropriate direction.
Trump tells a lie; Biden says something that doesn’t make sense.
The men accuse each other of being racist. Drink twice if you believe the charge.
Martyr shots: Biden invokes the name of a nonwhite police victim like Breonna Taylor or George Floyd, or Trump invokes the name of an embattled statue subject like Jefferson, Lincoln, or Teddy Roosevelt.
“Amy Coney Barrett.” Bonus if Biden botches the name, e.g. “Amy Hairy Conehead.”
You may finish your remaining alcohol if there is a fight. The men grabbing each other by the neck, pulling ties or underwear bands, spitting, ball-kicking, or any other physical provocation counts.