Monday, September 26, 2016

debate predictions

What follows are some off-the-cuff predictions about Monday's presidential debate. All of these predictions are safe no-brainers, so if you find yourself going "Duh" after reading each one, well... I can't blame you.

1. Donald Trump has promised to be "respectful" toward Hillary during the debate, but given how thin-skinned he is, I expect the gloves to come off fairly early. This will be exacerbated by the fact that Trump has, according to sources, done little to prep for the upcoming debate. He will cover up lack of knowledge with aggressive bluster.

2. Hillary Clinton will prove to have a better command of facts and figures.

3. That said, partisans on both sides of the aisle will engage in real-time fact-checking of both candidates' claims; plenty of articles and video commentary, the next day, will be devoted to debunking those claims and tallying up which candidate told more whoppers.

4. Hillary will score higher in terms of articulateness (she's a lawyer by training, after all); the Donald will score higher in terms of bluster. Which style of delivery proves more charismatic will be up in the air, by which I really mean utterly in the eye of the beholder.

5. Drudge will slap up his usual shock poll asking, as he did during the GOP primaries, who you think the debate's winner was; given Drudge's overwhelmingly rightie audience, the poll will skew heavily toward Trump.

6. Trump will declare victory on Twitter, no matter the outcome.

7. Trump will tweet complaints about Lester Holt, and maybe a barb or three about fellow billionaire and Trump "troll" Mark Cuban.

8. Trump won't be the only one complaining about Lester Holt's moderation. Dems will likely complain, too, if leftie complaints about Jimmy Fallon and Matt Lauer are any indication.

Now for some riskier predictions:

1. Hillary will have some sort of episode during the debate: coughing, neurological fit, whatever. Trump will have to hold back and be gallant, not snide, during these moments (if, indeed, there ends up being more than one such moment). He'll definitely have to avoid looking too pleased. Others are predicting that Hillary will be just fine during those painful 90 minutes; she'll have been pumped full of whatever chemicals are needed to keep her awake, alert, and feisty for the length of the debate.

2. Trump will receive a bigger post-debate boost in the polls than Hillary will. I'm not completely convinced this will happen, but it's what I'm leaning instinctively toward right now. My reasons for this are several. First, Hillary may be more articulate than Trump, and she may have more book smarts than he does, but Trump knows very well how to get under an opponent's skin with tactics that are patently immature. Look at what Trump did to Jeb Bush, which was so painful to watch that I was physically uncomfortable. Jeb, who is already cursed with the Bush family's thin lips, became even more thin-lipped as Trump needled, hectored, and mocked him; and as Jeb became visibly angrier, it was obvious that Trump had become the emotional puppet master. Everyone watching the Trump-Jeb exchange knew instinctively who owned whom. Hillary, as we all know, does terribly when she's caught in unscripted situations. I expect this trait to work against her whenever Trump is given a chance to extemporize. Not that Trump will necessarily say things of substance, but he has a killer instinct when it comes to gauging an opponent's emotional state. The question, of course, is whether Trump will end up looking as though he's beating up on a woman. That issue, in turn, will drag in the whole feminism discussion, which is why, as I said at the beginning of this paragraph, I'm not completely convinced Trump might benefit from his usual tactics. If Trump over-hectors Hillary instead of allowing her to trip over herself on her own, he can end up looking like the bad guy. Then again, the hardened support for both Hillary and Trump won't budge, no matter how the debate turns out, so really, it's going to be up to the undecideds, the middle-of-the-roaders, to assess the debate's aftermath and to nudge the polls one way or another.

3. If Trump doesn't put Gennifer Flowers in the front row of this debate (and it appears he won't), he's likely to do so in the second and third debates, along with Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, et al. It'll be tasteless and tacky, the essence of reality TV, but it'll be consistently Trumpian, especially if it turns out that Mark Cuban's presence does somehow rattle Trump during the first debate.

I expect the first debate to set the tone for the next two. This promises to be one of the most-watched presidential debates ever, but it could very well turn out to be a snoozer. Whoever seems to be the winner probably won't have to worry too much until the third and final debate; as when you're listening to a musical performance, it's how the performance ends that has the greatest impact on people's impressions of the whole. End the concert on a false, blatting note, and the entire performance will be ruined. If either candidate stumbles badly in the final debate, that's going to have repercussions right up to November. So while the first debate is important for setting tone, it's the third debate that's really key. (And that debate is going to be moderated by a right-leaning journalist: Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday.)

Some people are arguing that debates, given that they reveal little about potential leaders, are a poor predictor of electoral success and a poor predictor of leadership ability. As this promises to be one of the most style-heavy, substance-free debates in history, I'm inclined to agree. But who knows? Maybe some actual, substantive points will be made by Hil and Don. I look forward to ingesting an avalanche of post-debate commentary in less than 24 hours.


King Baeksu said...

Midway through the first debate, Trump will strike a Pepe the Frog pose ("Smug Pepe," no doubt), and $hillary will literally transform into Shitlary before the eyes of the nation. And when I say literally, I do mean literally.

At that moment, the campaign will be officially over and Trump will go on to collect all 538 electoral college votes, becoming the first presidential candidate ever to do so.

Meme magick is real, folks.

Kevin Kim said...

Are you back from Russia? Will you be writing about your trip on your site?

King Baeksu said...

I can tell you that Trump is very, very popular here in Russia. Russians think Killary is insane and wants to start WW3 with this great nation. What the hell is wrong with this woman, anyway?

Check this out: