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The following sentences are from abc news.

Some top advisers expect a dominant performance by the president, despite the opposing narratives of attacks on Joe Biden's mental state and the Trump campaign's work to raise expectations for the Democrat ahead of the showdown.

I think I understand each sentence and phrase but I can't do the whole context.

  1. Despite the opposing narratives of attacks on Joe Biden's mental state some top advisers expect a dominant performance by the president.

Guessing from 'despite' it seems that opposing narratives usually have negative effect but in the coming debate it will be different and effective.

  1. Despite the Trump campaign's work to raise expectations for the Democrat ahead of the showdown some top advisers expect a dominant performance by the president.

This sentece is very difficult for me. I can't understand what 'to raise expectations for the Democrat' means. Literally it looks like that Trump's staff help the Democrat to win the polls.

In short Trump and his staff try to attack Biden negatively, and the Democrat likes it because usually it is not effective, but some experts expect that the Democrat's hope will be vain and the attack will be successful.

Is it right?

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The opposing narratives are both propaganda put out by the Trump campaign:

attacks on Biden's mental state
and
Trump campaign's work (efforts) to raise expectations for the Democrat (Biden)

These two narratives are opposed to each other, and would seem to indicate a contradiction in the Trump campaign's expectations for Biden. They are slyly suggesting that Biden is not mentally competent, and (through other channels) suggesting that he will do well, so that if he (Biden) doesn't do really well, the narrative about his deteriorated mental state will be confirmed.

Now, despite those narratives, "some top advisers" (presumably advisers to the Trump campaign) expect the president to dominate Biden. That is, their expectations are at variance with their propaganda: if they expect the president to dominate, why put forward these two narratives?

The sentence is not really very clear, but that is what I think they are getting at.

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Raising expectations is a technique where you encourage people to think your opponent is going to perform extremely well. Instead of expecting a normal level of performance, their expectations are raised - they believe your opponent should (and will) do even better.

That way, even if they perform extremely well, people won't be impressed because they expected it - it becomes "average". And if they don't meet these inflated expectations it will be seen as a failure, and it will feel like a poor performance even if it was actually very good compared to the usual standard.

In the same way, political people will often seek to lower expectations about their own performance (or that of their party), so that the result always feels more impressive, like they've achieved something. It's all a manipulative trick, basically!

I agree that the ABC sentence isn't really expressing things very well, despite doesn't really work in the context of attacking Biden's mental health - you'd expect that to make Trump more likely to dominate! So I think Jack's right, they probably mean they expect Trump to dominate, despite his desperate efforts to undermine Biden (even though this is completely normal for US politics)

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