Debate poll: Democrats want ‘forceful’ Biden, GOP says Trump should be ‘polite’

Voters generally agree on what they want President Biden and former President Trump to say in the first presidential debate Thursday evening, but opinions are divided on how they should say it, a new survey found.

The survey, conducted by CBS News and YouGov, found that Democrats want Biden to take a more “forceful” tone during the debate, while Republicans are hoping Trump will take a “polite” approach.

Sixty-eight percent of Democrats said Biden should take a forceful tone on stage. Seventy percent of Republicans said Trump should be more polite.

Independents are fairly split on how Biden should handle the performance. Forty-seven percent say he should be forceful, while 53 percent say Biden should be polite. Independents were more likely to say Trump should be polite than debate forcefully.

Thursday’s debate, broadcast by CNN, will be the third time Trump and Biden will face off on the debate stage, but the first time each of the candidates will appeal to voters this election.

The survey found that many voters already have their minds made up about whom they are going to vote for, and relatively few think they will see something that will change how they cast their ballot this November.

One in 5 people who plan to watch the debate are looking to have the event help them decide whom to vote for. That sentiment is more common among younger voters, the survey found.

Most voters, 63 percent, are going to tune in to see how the candidates handle key policy issues. Some voters will be watching for whether or not Trump and Biden have the cognitive health to serve as president, which members of both parties have raised as concerns, with Biden 81 and Trump recently turning 78.

More than half of respondents say Biden should try to avoid mistakes on stage, and 68 percent think he should stick to his plans for the future.

After a chaotic initial 2020 debate that left moderators shocked after insults were hurled and each candidate was interrupted, Biden and Trump have agreed to a set of rules laid out by CNN, including mic muting.

Forty percent of respondents said they will tune in to the debate for the entertainment, the survey found.

Democrats were more apprehensive than Republicans to say their candidate was going to walk away from the debate with a win. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans say Trump will win the debate, while 58 percent of Democrats say Biden and 35 percent of the left say they are not sure who will win.

The survey was conducted among 2,032 people June 24-26 and has a margin of error of 3.5 points.

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