WASHINGTON – It could be the greatest show on Earth.
It could set the tone for the rest of the presidential campaign.
And the grand prize are some 27 million American voters who are as yet undecided as to whom they prefer in November for the presidency between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
What to watch for?
- Coughing jags
- Gennifer Flowers in the front row
- Disturbing eye movements
- Falls off the podium
- The most contentious presidential debate in American history
- And maybe even some presidential demeanor
Don’t expect the Lincoln-Douglas debate if you are among the anticipated 100 million viewers.
It begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time and is expected to last about 90 minutes. It will run commercial free.
Where can you watch on TV? A better question might be where can’t you watch. The following channels will carry it:
- Fox News
TV broken? Have no fear. You can watch online streams here:
- Facebook (with ABC News coverage)
- Twitter (with Bloomberg coverage)
- YouTube (with coverage from PBS, Fox News, Telemundo, Bloomberg and Washington Post)
And many other locations.
You can even watch in virtual reality. NBC is partnering with AltspaceVR to broadcast the debate in VR. Anyone with the Altspace VR app on Occulus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, or HTC Vive can watch and pretend they’re in the room with Clinton and Trump. You might want to wear a raincoat.
Where does the race stand today?
The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows the lead Clinton held nationally in most polls through August has evaporated as concerns about her health, qualifications, scandals and temperament have caught up with her.
According to that national poll, she now leads Trump 46 percent to 44 percent, within the 4.5 percent margin of error. Take out the third-party candidates who will not be on tonight’s debate stage and the difference is unchanged at 49 percent to 47 percent. But more than 20 percent of voters remain undecided. Among all registered voters they are tied at 46 percent.
But remember, in America we don’t have direct elections of presidents. It’s a matter of which states you win that decides the outcome. And the swing states are getting closer too.
The latest poll in Pennsylvania, for instance, shows Clinton up by 2 points over Trump – 40 to 38 – with the third-party candidates losing support.
Of course, it’s the first showdown between a female and male presidential candidate. Trump has more support among men than Clinton has among women.
There’s even a poll on who Americans think will do better in Monday’s showdown at Hofstra University on Long Island. A CNN/ORC poll this month found that 53 percent of respondents think Clinton will win, while 43 percent said Trump will.
So what is the spread on the outcome? SportsBettingDime.com has some advice: “If you’re a betting man, put your money down on (moderator and NBC news anchor) Lester Holt fact checking Donald Trump more than Hillary Clinton during the debate.”
Which candidate will get a bigger bump in the Quinnipiac poll that directly follows the debate:
Odds of which Clinton scandal/issue Trump refers to most often during the debate:
Email server: 2/1
Clinton Foundation: 3/1
Odds of which Trump scandal/issue Clinton refers to most often during the debate:
Tax returns: 2/1
Trump Foundation: 6/1
Trump University: 6/1
Odds on the color of Donald Trump’s tie:
FIELD (including striped): 20/1
Odds on the color of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit:
Yes, there’s more:
2/1: odds that Trump complains about the fairness of moderator Lester Holt during or following the debate
9/1: odds a Trump protester disrupts the debate
8/1: odds a Trump supporter disrupts the debate
22/1: odds that Clinton retires or withdraws from the debate before its scheduled end
1/1: odds San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is mentioned during the debate
1/7: odds Trump brings up Clinton’s health/stamina during the debate
1/3: odds Clinton brings up Trump’s alleged ties to Russia during the debate
6/1: odds Trump brings up Bill Clinton’s infidelities during the debate
3/1: odds the word “Skittles” is used during the debate (by a candidate or moderator)