WASHINGTON, D.C. - We are just a few hours away from the first 2024 Presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. It’s been four years since the candidates last squared off. The stakes and the anticipation for tonight could not be higher.  A felony conviction, a border crisis, the January 6 US Capitol attack, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and foreign wars; Those are just some of the major events that have happened between this debate and the last match-up between these two candidates. 

There are going to be a few new factors in tonight’s 90-minute debate: muted microphones when a candidate’s time has expired and no live studio audience. There will be two commercial breaks and the candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water. Those are a few things we know we’ll see tonight. We asked Dr. Todd Belt, Director and Professor of Political Management at George Washington University how those technical changes will impact the candidates: 

“The muted mics and no live audience automatically benefit Biden,” said Dr. Belt. “Donald Trump loves to work off of a crowd and he loves to bully people. He loves to get them off of their game. This means he will not be able to do that and so this is definitely an advantage for Biden.” 

We expect them to take some jabs at each other. Biden might go after Trump for not accepting the 2020 election results and for confirming three conservative-leaning Supreme Court Justices who helped overturn Roe. As for Trump, we can expect him to go after Biden on things like the Afghanistan withdrawal, immigration and the economy. 

Dr. Belt thinks this could be a good opportunity for the candidates to try out some new messaging to see what really sticks with voters. Belt said typically the people that watch these debates already know who they prefer, so Trump’s and Biden’s goals are to get their messages to the independent voters. That’s who could really make an impact in this election. 

“It’s the independents and the people who are less attentive who are the ones you’re really trying to reach,” said Dr. Belt. “They actually pay more attention to the news coverage the days after the debate so trying to get that memorable zinger or something in or avoiding a memorable gaff that might be replayed those are the types of things that the presidential candidates are really concerned about.”  

We will have  extensive coverage on the debate tonight at 11pm.