The debate season is crucial for all candidates. It is the greatest test of a candidate’s discipline and preparation. It is hard to explain the pressure a person undergoes as they walk on a debate stage. It does not matter if it is under the lights of a network for a POTUS debate or a local forum for state senate. The nerves any human being undergoes is extraordinary. Imagine the taking a pass/fail test where the slightest mistake can cause all the hard work of any career can end in a flash.
We read about candidates undergoing debate prep. That is important, but its effect is only to bring to the surface the information ingested over the many years leading up to a run. A serious candidate for any office should have spent hundreds or thousands of hours studying policy before the decision is made to run. A lack of depth is made obvious in debate season.
This is where Hillary has the advantage in tonight’s debate. She can stop the tide of slipping numbers by showing that she is the experienced choice while Trump lacks depth. Trump can counter it by surprising the public with policy. Hillary’s campaign is largely built around a Never Trump message. He’s a racist, misogynist, liar, etc…, and she is the steady, experienced hand. Trump can smash her campaign to pieces by jumping over the low bar the American public has set for him in terms of policy knowledge and temperament.