By Shaun Boyd
(CBS4) – As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump prepare to square off in their first presidential debate, a new poll shows the race is a dead heat.
One hundred million people — that’s a Super Bowl size crowd — are expected to watch the debate and 17 percent of people in an ABC/Washington Post poll say it could change their vote.
CBS4 Republican Analyst Dick Wadhams says much of the tightening in the polls is because Clinton has lost support, not because Trump has gained support. He says Trump has an opportunity to capitalize on that.
“I think there’s a whole bunch of voters who’ve moved into the ‘I’m undecided now’ and they moved away from her. They’re going to be looking for something from Donald Trump that might give them just enough assurance that he would be a responsible President of the United States.”
Wadhams says that means showing a command of the issues and appearing presidential.
Clinton has a different challenge.
“I think Hillary Clinton needs to come across as someone who’s not only in command of the issues but I think she needs to show some likeability factor,” says CBS4 Democratic Analyst Penfield Tate.
He says Clinton needs to avoid falling into the trap many of Trump’s primary opponents did.
“What we saw in the Republican primary race is too many candidates tried pick up his style in an effort to respond and retaliate against him and it didn’t wear well … I’m sure there will be some live action. I heard someone say it’ll be more full contact than the NFL game that’s running opposite it. I hope that’s not the case.”
Wadhams says in addition to how they perform, viewers’ reactions to the debate will play into who won.
“We will not know the clear winner until days after this debate unless somebody really messes up, but both of these candidates are capable of that.”
On the eve of the momentous debate, there was a tiff over seating arrangements. Billionaire Mark Cuban — a thorn in Trump’s side — tweeted he got a front row seat. Then — who had an affair with Bill Clinton — said she would be there. Trump’s campaign says it did not invite Flowers and the Commission on Presidential Debates says it would “frown” on Cuban being in the front row. CBS News Bob Schieffer said the squabble is “beneath the dignity of the office (the candidates) are running for.”