With less than an hour until the first presidential debate, here’s how I predict it will unfold:
Despite never holding public office and his possible naivete on certain issues, Trump surpasses expectations and puts on a very strong performance, and I’m saying this not because I support him but because he will use his charisma and ‘street smarts’ to outmaneuver the more cerebral, methodical Hillary. Hillary is an easier opponent than Cruz, and Trump held his own in the GOP debates. The same was observed in 2008 when Sarah Palin debated the more experienced, smarter Joe Biden and still did very well. Hillary will try to steer the debate to specific issues, but Trump will counter by focusing on the ‘big picture’ (‘making America great’, ‘restoring jobs’, ‘bringing jobs home’ etc.) and less on minutia, to much approval of the audience. Trump has to avoid the potential pitfall of foreign policy, particularly as it pertains to the Middle East, which is his main weak spot, and instead try to focus the debate on economics and ‘bread and butter’ issues. If he hesitates or equivocates too much, it will be perceived as weakness. Trump is really good at working a crowd, and that’s what he will try to do. Hillary’s attempts to win over the audience will not be as successful, and audience reaction is an important metric for how pundits gauge the winner or loser. But Trump will defer to facts and figures when necessary. The stock market, however, will not approve, as Wall St. perceives Trump as the American version of Brexit.