Here comes the third and final presidential debate: How will they do?

Now that it appears Donald Trump is sinking like a stone in most polls and is blaming this drop on the fact that the U.S. system for electing candidates is “rigged,” what will happen in tonight’s debate?

Even with scandals mounting, the I Ching accurately predicted that Trump would not completely bomb out after the last debate; he would be able to return to his base of ardent supporters, many of whom claimed he had won. However, the damage to his campaign caused by recent damaging allegations — and his response to them — is very real, which was also reflected in the reading before the last debate. The prevailing image referring to this sorry state of affairs was of a bed that was being split apart. This reading could actually be interpreted on multiple levels: in addition to indicating weakness in his campaign, the I Ching could also be making a more literal reference to the effect of his sex scandal; the oracle is very capable of literally applying its symbolism when delivering its judgments!

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, continues to be dogged by accusations of dishonesty and pay-to-play, as more emails from her campaign are leaked to the press. This perhaps explains why the I Ching predicted she would not emerge unequivocally triumphant after the second debate. Instead, the oracle predicted she would need to “wait” for a final outcome.

So, with so much blood in the water, what will happen tonight?

With Clinton leading in the polls (and Trump unlikely to catch up), I decided that a question that directly addresses their performance tonight would be more meaningful than using the polls as a proxy measure. However, because I did attain some rather surprising results, I did ask a follow-up about how the performance would affect each candidate’s standing in the polls.

Concerning this third and final debate, here were my initial questions:

What is the likely outcome of…

  1. Trump’s debate performance tonight?
  2. Clinton’s debate performance tonight?

And the follow-up questions were:

What is the probability that the performance will…

  1. Increase Trump’s standing in the polls?
  2. Increase Clinton’s standing in the polls?

Outcome of Trump’s debate performance and impact on his standing in the polls: The reading was not as bad as you might expect. Apparently he has given no small amount of thought to how he will answer Chris Wallace’s questions, which promise to focus more on issues such as immigration and less on past misdeeds, and Trump will attempt to demonstrate that he is running for president because he is concerned for the country, and not just because he is interested in surpassing even his tall standards for self-aggrandizement. However, the reading did indicate that this “pivot” could be too-little, too-late. He is isolated now; the moment when he could really have gained momentum has probably passed him by. Nevertheless, his performance will impress some folks, and serve to consolidate his base, and perhaps a few others.

As for the impact of this performance on poll numbers, the I Ching prognosticates that no real progress will be gained. He will suffer a little humiliation but may preserve some personal dignity in that he will feel he did not compromise his values or identity to pursue elusive poll numbers. The end result is that he will continue to shine among his supporters, but will continue to experience a waning of broader-based support.

Outcome of Clinton’s debate performance and impact on her standing in the polls: She did not receive the stellar reading you might expect. In fact, she attained the same hexagram (see below) that Trump attained last week, the one that talks about the bed splitting apart. Her past has yielded a fractured base of support, and her performance will not succeed in winning over critical observers to her camp — probably because she will pick some unnecessary fights with Trump in the course of the debate. While she may end the debate with an inspirational message that will engender some support among the already converted, the overall result will leave a sour taste with many voters.

Given this rather disappointing performance, her ability to move much in the polls will be constricted, and she will have no one to blame but herself. However, there is evidence that she will accept the reality that she won’t be able to expand her base much, and instead will focus on demonstrating her strength to her current supporters — a stance that will not cost her the lead.

So, to sum up: Trump will perform better than expected, Clinton will perform worse, but the outcome of this debate is not likely to move poll numbers by much.

The I Ching readings: To make this blog more immediately digestible, I decided to provide the commentary first, followed by the actual readings, so that readers acquainted with the I Ching can check my interpretation. I think I’ll do this for all future blogs unless a compelling reason emerges to again combine the two.

Outcome of Trump’s debate performance: Hexagram 20 (title: “Contemplation [View]”*) changing to Hexagram 45 (“Gathering Together [Massing]”). There were 2 change lines, in the fourth and sixth positions.

Impact on his standing in the polls: Hex 22 (“Grace”) changing to Hex 55 (“Abundance [Fullness]”). There was 1 change line, in the fifth position.

Outcome of Clinton’s debate performance: Hex 23 (“Splitting Apart”) changing to Hex 6 (“Conflict”). There were 3 change lines, the second, fourth, and fifth positions.

Impact on her standing in the polls: Hex 60 (“Limitation”) changing to Hex 11 (“Peace”). There were 2 change lines, in the third and fifth positions.

*Titles vary by translation. For this blog, I used those developed by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes in one of the first authoritative I Ching translations to appear in English, The I Ching, or Book of Changes, (1950/1967). (R. Wilhelm & C.F. Baynes, trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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