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The first Trump-Clinton debate, by the numbers

Election day is fast approaching, and nobody knows what’s going to happen.


Andrew Couts


Kick the tires and light the fires, America. The first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is just hours away.

As the long-awaited head-to-head approaches, we encounter a fork in the road to the White House. Down one path, Trump triumphs, ushering in four years of the Republican nominee’s brand of no-holds-barred nationalism. Down the other, Clinton surges into the Oval Office thanks to the shrewd calculating moves the Democrat is known for and a little help from the winds of history. 

In other words, nobody has any freakin’ clue what’s going to happen come Election Day. 

We do, however, have some data we can explore to help us feel better/worse about America’s prospects. Here’s a quick look at the key numbers as we enter a potential turning point in the 2016 election


Clinton will be asked the first question of the night. She’ll have two minutes to answer, and Trump will have two minutes to respond, according to NBC News.


Number of minutes of open debate between the candidates after the opening question.


Number of 15-minute “pods” that will make up the 90-minute debate.


Percentage of Americans who say they plan to watch the first presidential debate, according to an ABC News poll released Sunday

100 million

Number of people who are expected to tune in for the debate, reports NBC News.


Percentage of Americans who believe Clinton will win the debate, according to the same ABC News poll. 


Percent who think Trump will win. The lowered expectations for Trump means, according to an NPR analysis, that Clinton has a more difficult task.


Number of points Clinton, the Democratic nominee, sit ahead of Trump in a four-way race that includes Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, according to the Real Clear Politics average. The new Bloomberg Politics poll puts Clinton and Trump tied at exactly 46 percent each, while the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll puts Clinton ahead by two points, 46 to 44.


Number of minutes in which the winner of Monday night’s debate, which lasts a full 90 minutes (without commercials), will most likely be decided by voters, according to a Politico analysis.


Points that separate Trump and Clinton among likely voters in the battleground states of Colorado and Pennsylvania, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Trump leads in Colorado 42 to 41 over Clinton, while Clinton leads Trump 46 to 45 in Pennsylvania. Both states’ results fall within the 3.5-point margin of error, putting the two leading candidates in an effective dead heat. 

8 out of 10

Number of times the non-incumbent party candidate makes gains after presidential debates, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver. That is to say, Trump has a far greater likelihood of benefitting from the debate than Clinton.


Percent chance Clinton has of winning the general election, as of Monday morning, according to FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast. This is the closest the two candidates have ever been in this prediction model.


Number of days until Election Day on Nov. 8, meaning of life.

The Daily Dot