It’s Sunday night, which means it’s time for a bruising, no-holds barred rematch in America’s favourite blood sport.
No, we’re not talking about Sunday night football. It’s round two of the Presidential debates, and the stakes are higher than ever as Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton faces off against Republican Donald Trump.
The 90 minute showdown is structured in a “Town Hall” format, in which the candidates will field questions from actual voters – half of them present in the room, the other half submitted online.
The St. Louis, Missouri event is being moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.
You can listen live, commercial free, on the CKNW app, or through our online player starting at 6pm.
You can also watch it via live stream here.
While its rare (though not unheard of) for a debate to provide a make-or-break moment in a campaign, the consequences of a poor performance tonight for either candidate could have huge ramifications.
Donald Trump, widely panned for his performance in last month’s debate, has been sliding in the polls ever since.
Now, the debate caps a disastrous week for his campaign, which saw a bombshell tape of him advocating sexual assault and hitting on married women in 2005 released by the Washington Post.
He’s facing open revolt within his own party as dozens of conservative voices and elected Republicans line up to condemn his remarks.
Others have been openly musing about trying to force him to step down to be replaced by his own running mate, who pulled out of a campaign event yesterday in which he’d been slated to appear for Trump.
Failure tonight could further paint Trump into a corner, and put major pressure on down-ticket candidates.
For Clinton, tonight is about scoring a knock out punch against her reeling competitor and cementing her position as front runner.
But if Clinton stumbles, she could take the heat off of Trump and open an avenue for him to get back into the race.
A major Clinton gaffe or bombshell leaving her on the defensive in the coming week could also give nervous Republican leaders a way to rally around their candidate.
What to expect
The “Trump Tape” scandal means there’s no question concerns that have long dogged Trump’s campaign about his treatment of women will be front and centre.
However, Trump has signaled he may try and take the bull by the horns, turning the issue back on Clinton. At the end of the 90-second apology video he issued in the wake of the scandal, Trump attempted to link the two issues.
“Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate Sunday.”
Trump has regularly flirted with making Bill Clinton’s sexual past a part of his attack, at one point musing about seating Gennifer Flowers, with whom Clinton had an affair, in the front row of the first debate, before taking the issue back off the table.
However this morning, Trump surrogate and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN’s Jake Tapper the candidate may go after the way Clinton treated the women involved in her husband’s affairs.
Many pundits said Trump missed an opportunity in the first debate by failing to fully exploit Clinton’s vulnerability over her long-running private email server scandal.
That issue has now been revived by a new Wikileaks dump of emails allegedly hacked from Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, which appear to show Clinton presenting a much friendlier face to Wall Street insiders at private, paid speeches than on the campaign trail.
The Clinton campaign has refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents, however supporters have sought to portray Wikileaks as in league with Russian interests and some have questioned whether the documents have been doctored.
Podesta himself took to Twitter to say he wasn’t “happy about being hacked by the Russians in their quest to throw the election to Donald Trump,” and that he didn’t “have time to figure out which docs are real and which are faked.” A similar line of defense would not be surprising in tonight’s debate.
Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, in violation of four decades of electoral tradition has continued to develop as a campaign issue.
Trump has no legal obligation to do so, and maintains (incorrectly) that he cannot release them because he is being audited by the IRS.
Clinton raised the issue in the first debate suggesting Trump has something to hide, and that in many years he hadn’t paid taxes, to which he replied “that makes me smart.”
The issue was re-ignited earlier this month when the New York Times obtained part of Trump’s 1995 tax return, which revealed he’d declared a nearly $1-bn loss, which could have allowed him to (legally) avoid paying taxes for almost the entire two subsequent decades.
Trump has not confirmed or denied the information, however Giuliani told U.S. media avoiding taxes makes the candidate a “genius.”
WATCH: Clinton and Trump spar over emails and tax returns
Of course an hour and a half of live, non-stop high pressure television could provide any number of unscripted moments with the power to go viral.
The candidate’s on-stage interactions could play a part. In the first debate Trump’s constant interrupting didn’t go over well with viewers, appearing rude and overbearing to some.
He also, infamously, refuses to “prepare” for debates in a traditional manner. Trump’s avoidance of briefing documents and mock-debate scenarios means it’s difficult to predict how he may react on stage.
Clinton, on the other hand has consistently struggled to come across as relaxed and warm to many, and a number of her first debate “zingers” came across as rehearsed.
She did, however, score with a few social media friendly moments like her infamous “shimmy.”
She may also try to revisit her first debate strategy of trying to needle Trump into reacting emotionally.
Further, a live audience asking questions could lead to some unexpected moments, particularly if the candidates come off as aloof or unrelatable.