{{show_title_date || "Candidates prep for tonight's GOP debate, 9/16/15, 11:31 AM ET"}}

Is the debate stage hiding home-field advantages?


SIMI VALLEY, California — Like baseball teams arguing over the height of the grass in the infield, some campaigns are seeing built-in potential advantages in the playing field CNN is setting up for tonight’s debate.

With the network previewing the event as a fight, some of the physical characteristics of the venue could add to that atmosphere.

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Each podium is only 20 inches away from the one next to it — putting the candidates in close physical proximity. That’s much a smaller distance than the 2012 standard, which was 34 inches, and half as far as the podium placement in Cleveland this August, when they were 40 inches apart.

That proximity could easily encourage physical interaction among the candidates — which could create all kinds of unpredictable moments. It also will affect each candidate differently. Jeb Bush is 6’3”, and Donald Trump 6’2” so they could potentially knock into each other just by raising their hands in normal gesturing.

Another factor that could contribute to the fighting atmosphere: Heat. The room is full of windows and it will still be light out on the West Coast, and it could get warmer than usual in the room.

Finally, the debate is two hours and 40 minutes long — meaning many of the candidates could be tired by the end, and prone to mistakes. Campaigns with younger candidates are viewing this as an advantage.