Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! Debate Predictions, and Hopes for the First Presidential Debate

Joe Biden - Donald Trump. (Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall; AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Yours truly was interviewed yesterday on St. Louis, Missouri, News Talk STL by Mike Ferguson, regarding tonight’s big Presidential debate. You can find that interview here.

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We discussed my predictions for the debate, and my two debate columns for RedState.  These columns are:

Thanks again, Mr. Ferguson, and RedState!

In the following column, I will revise and extend my discussion from that interview.

My big prediction for tonight’s debate – most likely, the debate changes things for a few weeks, narrowly in favor of Joe Biden, but then things go back to a narrow Donald Trump edge in the national polling.  Because, as former Speaker Newt Gingrich has said, starting the day after the debate, the American people will go out shopping for groceries, gas, cars, etc., and they'll experience Biden's inflation.  They will also see more examples of illegal aliens committing horrific crimes, pro-Hamas protestors attacking Jewish synagogues (because ISRAEL!), more stories of Joe Biden being corrupt, and, of course, every week, Joe Biden being senile.  

Also, historically, most Presidential debates simply don't change the fundamentals of an election. 

This kind of debate result would be a total disaster for Biden.   On election day, Biden needs to be ahead of Trump by at least 3 points in the national popular vote to be assured of winning enough battleground states – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – to carry the electoral college.  Currently, Trump leads by 1.5 points in the Real Clear Politics average, which is now slightly better than his lead right before he was convicted of the ridiculous New York charges in the partisan Bragg prosecution.  

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So much for the Democrat lawfare strategy.  Considering Trump’s campaign fundraising post-conviction “explosion”, it has been the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory for the Democrats.

And with the first debate done, there are going to be precious few possible events that can change the fundamentals of the 2024 election. 

Going into tonight’s debate, the conventional wisdom/expectations are this:

  • Biden is going to fall, drool, lose his train of thought, slur his words, etc., multiple times.

  • Trump is going to be a bull in the China shop, pounding Biden mercilessly.

I expect both candidates to behave differently than they are expected to.  I expect Joe Biden will perform similarly to his performance at the State of the Union (Jacked Up Joe, as Sean Hannity has labeled him).  I also expect Donald Trump to be more restrained, similar to how he behaved in 2020 during the second Presidential debate.

But I think Biden is the key – his expectations are so low since seemingly everyone believes he has dementia, that just showing up and not totally embarrassing himself will give his followers their fig leaf, and their talking points for the next day.  And the swing voters will tilt towards him based on this kind of performance, temporarily.  If this happens, this should be enough for a few-point swing in the Real Clear Politics average.

The yuge danger for Biden is if he does exhibit a major sign of dementia, or enough minor signs to be embarrassing.  As Roger Ailes, a campaign expert if ever there was one, once theorized, in his "Orchestra Pit Theory": 

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On a debate stage, the candidate who "falls in the orchestra pit" will get more coverage than a candidate who talks about foreign policy.  

And as many people know who have elderly relations with dementia issues, there is simply no way to guarantee that Biden will not fall into the orchestra pit.  It may not be likely to happen, but it could happen.  

Meanwhile, there are three possibilities for Trump:

  • Trump is very aggressive, like in the first Presidential debate of 2020:  Many Trump supporters greatly fear that this is what will happen.  However, assuming it actually does, I really don't think that will hurt him very much.  Everyone expects him to be like this, so it won’t be all that surprising.  However, in tandem with Jacked Up Joe, this should give Biden a small bump up in the polling. 

  • Trump is more measured, like in the second Presidential debate of 2020: This would be better for Trump than him being too aggressive, but I still think Jacked Up Joe "trumps" measured Trump in the short term, and would lead to a small bump up in Biden’s polling (probably less than if Trump is too aggressive, however). 

  • Trump does something different, to great surprise.  This is what I am hoping for.  Since Speaker Gingrich is a yuge supporter of Donald Trump, and Trump has access to him, I am hoping that Trump channels Gingrich from Gingrich’s own Presidential race in 2012.  In other words, I hope Trump tangles with the moderators (who everyone knows are biased) and embarrasses them.  He should do this in sorrow, and not in anger.  This will make news, like falling in the orchestra pit, but in a good way.  And these partisan people are moderators, and not referees, so attacking them will not cost you “debating points” in the debate.

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Anyway, that is my prediction, and I am sticking to it.  And I am eager to get out the alcohol, and the popcorn, and settle down and watch the fireworks.  

To get us in the mood, choose from among the following songs, which should be playing on a loop at Trump headquarters:

Let’s get ready to rumble!

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