What to watch for during the 1st presidential debate l FiveThirtyEight

The FiveThirtyEight Politics crew discusses what to expect during the first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
8:57 | 09/29/20

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Transcript for What to watch for during the 1st presidential debate l FiveThirtyEight
Hello and welcome to 530 its. Virtual newsroom is for this evening we're getting ready to cover the first presidential debate between president from and democratic nominees Joseph Biden. We want to talk a little bit about how much debates actually matter some polling that we've done in the run up to this to me and what we can expect. From the evenings or humorous means our politics editors are prostitutes and his Sarah. He can then. Anheuser about as warm or honor our quantitative editor at Mara. I. So take cigarettes not cigarette. You know how much do debates actually matter we're all watching millions of people are going to be tuning in tonight will be live blogging shocked at 530 in my blog went to spit all actually matter. The perennial question rate. So I mean. Political scientist kind of mixed on us right but one thing we've looked that in general election debates is setting aside the primaries those are over now. Is that the first debate generally can shift their race a little bit ray and Harry Denton he had done an analysis forest back and 26 team that looked at that some what he found. Is that typically the challenger benefits from the first debate. Where a little lesser whether that'll be truth this year just given the sizable lead Biden has in the polls and how stable the racist then. But if it'd debate is going to shake up the election this year it should be this. Interest I mean we also. According to our four class model. We kind of build and a mechanism that it expects the polls to shift a little bit after the debate but then revert to the means or even if we do receive Irish activists in either Biden or trumps favor. That could be eased somewhat fleeting and of course there's a million things going on in the news from Supreme Court confirmation hearings to. The tax return investigation from the New York Times news or so much going on that we may not even deal to tell what exactly is moving the polls. However we are during our own polling to ask people what they think about a race immediately prior to the debate and immediately after and we partnered with excess so. Laura we've done our immediately prior polling what did we find. Well we found that the electorate is very polarized. One interesting. I don't think those are let it got. Rather than asking people. Whom they would vote for asking how I vote for eat. And we are sort of expecting some people to be that someone. And it turns out that's not its people and V. I am very short they're in and I'm very sure that Biden. And very few people act Horton. Between the candidates. Which which you know it makes sense with what we had following what started C out there. When it comes. The question does it apps the polling that we've seen in this sense that it looks like when you look nationally media about 5%. Of the American public gets stale undecided. With the kind of reflected in the numbers they use all. That's a good question because we asked the question somewhat differently it's not directly compare well but yes it is like Mary very small numbers of people that Antonin need torn between candidates there are also and other people with that there. And something that would just an issue. In national people's. Are. So that it isn't there to apple and its arts. That is what we found. We did also how light the evening in each candidate to win and on on that it's quite interesting that people arm much more. The torn Baird's quite a lot of people think that it's a toss up between between. Which is which to think is that as you say the polling has been pretty stable and by its paper and of course our forecast model has despite paper to witness well but people seem. Maybe spooked by 2060. But yes they they seem less sure. So what are we gonna be watching for after the debate when we poll of these that's our audience again. That's a good question I mean. Basically we're asking all the same questions again so we'll be able to see whether the pop platinum mission. And we'll be able to seats and whether people think. That one or the other candidate. Is now more or less likely to win or whether they change their mind about them. Also whether candidates capabilities of change which is another thing we're tracking. One other thing is we're also asking people how they think the candidates performed. Like both how they perform incidents. On the issues like how they think they outlined their policies and also how it performs at the so. We'll see if those are different my prior at you know people are going to be let me to judge the candidates at a and it's acne and in line with their Pryor isn't anything that depending on. Which candidate you haters at the Kennedy thing we'll do better on both of those metrics but maybe there'll be an. Vols certainly have to check back and on the polling people on the web say and we'll probably talk right in the podcast as well Sarah what are you watching forward. Tonight from the first to be. School well you know. Our forecast shows -- going and kind of as the underdog here right and so one thing we're discussing leading up to that debate is. Biden has more ground to blues and something that I think the trump campaign has trying to keep. Trying to plant the seed. Is that he's too old to got burned he won't have a cohesive vision for how to move the country Ford. I wonder if trap is able to land those attacks and I wonder if trump is able to move his numbers that's kind of really what you know needs to happen at this planet realize. That's a bit simplistic that the lead is quite large. And trump needs to narrow that tonight and I'm curious how his performance will help do that. Will Sarah part of the argument from the charm campaign that Biden is tool to govern and perhaps as mental security isn't all there is a he's a significantly lowered expectations. For Biden's performance. Published expectations matter and these kinds of events both for out of press covers and power the audience react. Say tonight when they talk about policies like some of the things that come up we knew fresher because they've at least issues ahead of time are the current rate. Well let if trump and senate focusing on the past year in terms of what he stunner hasn't done. Is hey here's where we are on the vaccine and some kind of bombshell development there that's what the media with latch on to then in terms of the story and tired of moving forward. Sit the expectations. I thinker huge part of this and to your point though BP he is to successfully. Lowered expectations for guidance at Biden has been mediocre performance that's enough. Yet that's certainly what we signed the primary debates I think people had no expectations for Biden and the fact that. And I actually not math. Was with than enough for him. Lead in the polls. Yet we actually did this if sellers polling during the primary debates wasn't it that frequently. The audience rated items performance amongst the worst of all of the candidates. I like more evidence that needed Gustafson. Yeah I mean I think that we. We did see a few shifts in our in our polling though as you said earlier those are often. Not very long. Police parents of a rise up and that I think the first debate. They're opening inning and after she attacked Biden and Biden's that it lost some ground there. But none of that. Lasted all that long and and you're right I mean people where we're ninety not taken with Biden's performance but that didn't really changed its pan. Are well whether or not this debate matters we Wohl we NC but what does matter is that we will be I've blocking it tonight as the Everett should join us at 530 dot com. And also have a reaction part passed after the fact so. Tune in to podcast feeds but that's different answer thank you sent more. Think scam and and remember to subscribe to fight poverty on UQ I believe the year product if you to subscribe. Bart ticket.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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