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Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton face-off in first presidential debate

Posted at 6:42 PM, Sep 26, 2016

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump meet Monday night for the first presidential debate. The highly-anticipated match-up comes just six weeks before Election Day on November 8.

Both candidates have thrown jabs but never in the same ring. Monday night, Clinton and Trump will finally face-off in the first of three presidential debates.

“I mean the estimates are 100 million people could be watching,” said government affairs & public policy Professor John T. Willis at the University of Baltimore.

The 90-minute debate puts the two front runners in the same room, giving both an opportunity to counter the other's political stance.

“It makes a difference. The form makes a difference. It's a lot easier to say something about your opponent when you're doing an one-on-one interview than it is if the opponent is in the room and has an immediate opportunity to respond,” Willis said.

And their response could change someone's vote. Debates allow the public to listen for themselves, to interpret, and then make their own judgment.

“Demeanor, how they respond, how they interact, how they communicate, all of those go into making a voter's choice of what do I want my president to look like? How do I want them to act? How do I want them to respond?” Willis said.

Monday’s meeting, however, may not make a big difference in Maryland. A recent Goucher poll shows Hillary Clinton leading in likely voters with 58 percent of the vote and Trump with 25 percent. The lead is not uncommon in a blue state, but the favorability polls aren't so encouraging. Forty-six percent of likely voters viewed Hillary Clinton unfavorably. Seventy-six percent of voters held an unfavorable view of Trump.

“Likeability is not the same thing as electability,” said Willis. “The question is not are they likeable, but it's how do they compare to their opponent?”

And the candidates will work to differentiate themselves by answering questions on national security, foreign policy, and the economy.

“We're still concerned about job growth and wage growth and so specifics on the economy I think will be important to Marylanders,” Willis said.

The focus on policy also marks a shift in the presidential race where the candidates will be judged on content versus showmanship.

“I hope we look at it tonight as a serious endeavor, a way to distinguish between the candidates as opposed to a reality TV show,” said Willis.

You can watch the first presidential debate on ABC2 starting at 9 p.m. The other two presidential debates will be held October 9 and October 19.