A presidential race that began more than a year ago will culminate in about six weeks, and at 6 p.m. PST voters will get to see how candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debate issues live at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Gordon Stables, associate dean of student affairs for the Annenberg School and director of debate and forensics for the University of Southern California, said the challenge for the candidates is that while they are used to attacking each other, they have never done so in person. "So the real dynamic will be: how do they respond to hearing those things on the same stage?"
Brandon Douglas, a student at USC, is "expecting quite a show."
"I expect there to be not much content honestly," said USC student Spencer Petty. "I think they've been going surface level… I'm not expecting too much to happen as far as learning about their policies."
Moderated by NBC's Lester Holt, the 90-minute debate will feature six 15-minute segments. Holt will pose the question for the first minute, and each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The remaining 10 minutes will be used for open discussion. Holt announced three topics that will guide his questions for the debate: "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity" and "Securing America." According to NBC, Clinton will get the first question.
According to the most recent LA Times/USC Dornsife Presidential Election Daybreak Poll, the candidates remain close, with more than 46 percent of those surveyed for Trump and more than 42 percent for Clinton, though the numbers may still be "too close to call."
"I feel like Trump might actually come out on top just because… he does a good job of having those short comments that don't mean much but seem to carry weight in debates," said Douglas.
USC student Connor Ling had a different take: "I think [Clinton] is gonna wipe the floor with Donald Trump."
Stables said that "Trump's strength is that he's used to reading a crowd." Clinton's strength, on the other hand, "is policy understanding and awareness."
"I think that the candidates are polar opposites when it comes to how their public personas inform this debate," Stables said.
Douglas said that ultimately Clinton will be stronger when it comes to explaining policy issues.
Students who commented for this story said they were concerned with hearing about gun control and police brutality at the debate tonight.