Republican nominee Donald Trump likely will win the first presidential debate of the 2016 season.
While his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton will have to fight intensely for a victory in the Sept. 26 televised debate, all Trump has to do to earn the respect of American voters and analysts is present a calm and collected face to the world.
On June 2, Clinton called Trump “temperamentally unfit” for the presidency, reports ABC News. Since then, the Republican candidate has focused on proving this accusation untrue.
This accusation, and other similar claims from Clinton supporters, could work in Trump’s favor leading into the first head-to-head debate, according to Observer Politics writer Matt Mackowiak.
“Trump is likely to benefit from low expectations for his performance,” Mackowiak writes. “Described by the Clinton campaign as temperamentally unfit, if Trump just appears normal, then this debate may be judged a victory for him.”
A “normal” candidate will do well in the first debate, especially in the eyes of swing state or undecided voters who are seeking change, but not radicalism, after eight years with a liberal president.
While Clinton maintains a significant lead in the state-by-state polls, national polls show the Republican and Democratic candidates almost tied in supporters, according to Newsweek. Using these debates to appeal to swing state voters is essential to Trump’s campaign.
Trump has had trouble sticking to scripts during public statements in the past. In this teleprompter-free setting, Trump’s campaign has decided to adopt a hands-off approach, according to Fox News.
On Sept. 23, GOP campaign managers reportedly advised Trump to allow Clinton to speak and answer questions as much as possible.
Mackowiak predicts that Clinton will have to answer questions about her private email server and the possibility of wealthy Clinton Foundation donors receiving unparalleled access to the State Department. These questions will be difficult to answer unscripted and, if addressed unsuccessfully, could guarantee an immediate debate victory for Trump.
If proctors prod Trump more than they question Clinton, Trump will blame the “dishonest and corrupt media.”
Since the beginning of his campaign, the media has concentrated an overwhelming amount of attention on Trump and his campaign.
“I am not only fighting Crooked Hillary, I am fighting the dishonest and corrupt media and her government protection process. People get it!” tweeted Trump on Aug. 14.
It will be easy for Trump to spin difficult questions as another one of the media’s frequent attempts to catch him off guard or contribute to his demise.
To secure a victory in the first debate, Clinton will have to encourage moderators to make Trump answer every question he is asked, according to Newsweek.
“If the moderator gives Trump a free pass when he gives sound-bite answers lacking sufficient detail, Clinton should stop the debate and refuse to move on until Trump has given the information that voters deserve,” says Newsweek writer Brian Klaas.
Unfortunately for Clinton, doing so may detract from her already suffering likeability factor.
Richard Himelfarb, an associate professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York, told Fox News that likeability and persona are essential to winning the debate.
When asked about Clinton, he said she “will come to the debate armed with a deep knowledge of the issues, but ultimately has to show she can be likeable. She has to come off as dismissive [of Trump’s barbs] but not in a patronizing way.”
Himelfarb added, “The debate is going to be decided on body language, tone and temperament. It will all be about tone and demeanor and much less about substance.”
All of these factors point to a victory for Donald Trump.
By following his campaign’s strategy, not allowing any sign of a temper show, and allowing Clinton to speak as much as possible, Trump can win the first presidential debate with ease.