Back in 2016, when he approached the lectern for his final debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump responded by airing grievances against the ‘corrupt’ media, disparaging Clinton as a ‘criminal’ and refusing to commit to abide by the election results.

Trump was widely viewed as the loser of that debate. Yet he also demonstrated a level of self-restraint, suggesting the president is capable of dialing back the excesses that proved disastrous in his first debate with Joe Biden — when he needs to…

Joe Trippi, the Democratic strategist, said he can’t foresee Trump benefiting from the debate “under any circumstances.” And Frank Luntz, the veteran Republican consultant and pollster who has been conducting post-debate focus groups, said “it is possible that this race ended the moment the first debate ended.”

“If my focus group of undecided voters was any indication, the 80 million people who watched the debate came to a collective conclusion that while there was much in the Trump agenda that appealed to them, Joe Biden was simply seen as the better human,” Luntz said in an email. “The only way this is not the narrative is for Trump to improve his debate performance” tonight.