Clinton, Trump set to argue issues as well as personality traits in first of three debates

100 million Americans are expected to watch. Some will be watching for the potential entertainment factor; some for the issues.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The stage is set for the first debate in the presidential race.

“It’s most likely going to come down to a personality contest,” said Dr. John Baick, a history and political science professor at Western New England University.

The race for the White House is tighter than ever as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take the stage for their first high-stakes, historic debate. It’s high stakes because in 90 minutes, they must prove their stance on the issues like immigration, jobs, and foreign policy. They must also show their personality: their trustworthiness, likability, experience.

100 million Americans are expected to watch. Some will be watching for the potential entertainment factor; some for the issues. “Well, I’m hoping it’s more on the issues than the entertainment, because more people are looking for the entertainment of this but it’s too serious to just leave it entertainment. It’s got to be serious,” said Charles Robinson of West Springfield. He said he already had his mind made up going into tonight’s debate and did not think a candidate would sway him otherwise.

Debate 2016: What you need to know before you watch

Dr. Baick said historically, a debate has changed the conversation in the race for the White House, but it alone hasn’t won an election for a candidate. It will, however, win them at least one percentage point in the polls, which in this tight of a race, could make a big difference.

Tonight will be the first time in American history that a woman debates in a general election as a party’s presidential candidate. Dr. Baick said that will make a huge difference in how Clinton and Trump interact with each other on the stage. “I think a lot of voters still are not sure, you see a lot of flipping among undecided voters and a lot of voters who are actually changing their minds based on the daily news cycle. Tonight’s debate could go a long way toward cementing their opinions,” said Dr. Baick. He added that the moderator can play a large role in shaping the candidates’ answers and demeanor depending on if he or she decides to fact check during the debate. Tonight’s moderator is Lester Holt. You can watch the debate on 22News at 9PM. 

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