Local political expert weighs in on what to expect in first 2020 presidential debate

Your Local Election Headquarters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In Kansas City, people are getting ready to watch the first presidential debate of 2020. President Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden hit the stage for the first time.

Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Dr. Beth Vonnahme, said this year is a campaign season like none we’ve seen before.

“This is not a normal campaign. We don’t have big campaign rallies. We don’t have the in-person campaigning where you’re going door to door, meeting in small groups. That’s been a big problem for the candidates,” Vonnnahme said. “So this is really the first time they’ve had a chance to engage on a national stage with each other.”

She said only about 6-10% of people watching the debate are still deciding on a candidate. Those tuning in said it’s an opportunity to see how their candidate talks about issues they care about and hear from the other side.

“Normally what happens is people bifurcate. They end up on this one side or the other side, and they don’t know what the other perspective is at all. It gives a chance for both people, both types of voters to hear all the ideas presented and make a sound decision,” said Edgar Gonzalez, a Trump supporter.

“It’s just good to reassure, for them to reassure us, to say, ‘OK, there is a good reason why I voted for them, or why I will vote for them,'” said Broderick Jones, a Biden supporter.

Vonnahme said whoever wins the debate can really be in the eye of the beholder, and it’s all about meeting viewers’ expectations.

“The reality is winning a debate is really about if you met expectations. If the expectations for you are low then you don’t have to do too much to do fine. If people expect you to win you can sometimes lose the debate because you haven’t met those expectations,” Vonnahme said.

The debate will air at 8 p.m. on FOX4, and we will have coverage afterward on FOX4 News at 9 and 10.

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