NewsBiden and Trump prepare for high-stakes debate in tight race

Biden and Trump prepare for high-stakes debate in tight race

According to the latest polls, Joe Biden and Donald Trump would each receive 46% support.
According to the latest polls, Joe Biden and Donald Trump would each receive 46% support.
Images source: © East News | ANGELA WEISS

1:41 PM EDT, June 27, 2024

For Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the televised debate holds enormous significance. Both candidates are neck and neck in polls before the elections scheduled for November 5. According to experts, the campaign's generally calm conduct so far is surprising. They believe that their live, direct clash could be crucial.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump will face each other in the CNN studio in Atlanta on Thursday evening. This is just a few days after the results of an average poll presented by "The New York Times." Both candidates enjoy support at around 46%. This is good news for the current President of the USA, who had been trailing in the polls behind the former head of state.

First time in history

Thursday's debate will mark the campaign's final stage before the November presidential elections. Before November 5, there will be two political conventions and two debates, and Americans will start casting their votes as early as September. The 78-year-old Trump and 81-year-old Biden are the oldest presidential candidates of the major parties in U.S. history.

The debate is already historic because candidates have never faced off directly this early, four months before the elections.

According to Ryszard Schnepf, former Polish ambassador to Washington, we are witnessing an exceptionally balanced rivalry between both candidates.

Calm as trump

"Recent studies indicate that Biden and Trump both have 46%. It's almost symbolic. What may be surprising up until now is the rather calm course of the campaign. There have been no upheavals that would flip the pre-election landscape," says Ryszard Schnepf to Wirtualna Polska.

In his opinion, this could mean that Donald Trump and his entourage want to show that they are a civilized political force. And a potential victory by the former U.S. president does not spell disaster.

"It looks like pre-election calming of opponents and also undecided voters. Looking at Trump's appearances, they adhere to the rules of the game and don't shock as they did previously," Schnepf assesses.

The former ambassador to the USA emphasizes that the debate between Biden and Trump seems decisive.

"It will not be an in-depth discussion of American issues. It is said that Donald Trump wants to emphasize economic and immigration matters. But it's hard to believe he will refrain from making more emotional comments about Biden and his condition. All eyes will be on the current president to seek answers to the question: what is his current state? Importantly, doubts surrounding the U.S. president are not concerned with his actions and program but with his ongoing leadership capabilities. I am curious to see how much Biden will try to convince the audience that he still has control of the situation and will bear the weight of responsibility in the next term," says Ryszard Schnepf.

Americanist Prof. Zbigniew Lewicki speaks in a similar tone.

"These are elections full of concerns and dangerous for the world"

"We have a balanced election campaign, so we eagerly await the debate. Above all, it is supposed to answer the question: Can President Biden win the elections and lead the USA for another four years? Despite significant reservations about Trump, the main narrative is about Biden's condition. And whether the president will be physically and mentally able to handle the office in the White House. Trump will likely address this issue because he sees Biden as a candidate incapable of holding office," says Prof. Zbigniew Lewicki to WP.

In his opinion, programmatic issues in the campaign will likely appear after the election conventions, once the candidates formally receive their party's nominations.

"Now they are focusing on what can bring them additional votes. On the one hand, Biden emphasizes Trump's instability and unpredictability. On the other hand, the Republican leader targets evident flaws in Biden's physical and mental state. It seems that whoever wins it will be quite embarrassing and dangerous for the world. These are elections full of concerns. There is no good choice," Prof. Lewicki assesses.

The key date in the campaign might be July 11. On that day in New York, there will be a hearing where the judge will decide the penalty for Donald Trump for 34 crimes he was convicted of in the case related to the hush money payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels. Although most experts do not expect a prison sentence, it cannot be ruled out that it may influence the election outcome.

"Both the verdict and the scandals involving Trump are nothing new in the USA. Of course, his opponents are triumphing. And supporters say it's another proof that the establishment wants to destroy their candidate. Studies show that he has lost some supporters but gained some as well. So, at this moment, it's not significant for election forecasts," says Prof. Zbigniew Lewicki to WP.

Ryszard Schnepf shares this view. "The recent verdict is irrelevant for Trump's voters, who support him wholeheartedly. Nothing will break them; this is a solid electorate of the Republican candidate. The group of undecided voters may decide the election outcome. In their case, the verdict could play a bigger role and tip the scales in Biden's favor," believes the former Polish ambassador to Washington.

As he reminds us, voters are driven by emotions, and candidates who do not follow the rules do not win.

"Something always explodes"

"If something grabs the attention — especially of undecided voters — the candidates should use it. Anxiety and fear are greater tools than satisfaction and contentment. Remember that in the pre-election month — in October — 'something always explodes.' Whether it's a scandal or a situation that later becomes a trigger for the undecided who vote 'in the spur of the moment.' Can the Democrats cause strong enough emotions for their voters to go out and vote? If they base their decisions on Biden's uneventful administration, they won't leave their homes," Ryszard Schnepf comments.

And Prof. Zbigniew Lewicki notes that it is similar for undecided voters in every election. "This group makes decisions at the last minute or shortly before the elections. If they go to the polls, they can tip the scales of victory for Biden or Trump. If we have a tie now, both candidates will have to play in the campaign specifically for the undecided," the expert concludes.

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