The world won't end if Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, a leading New Zealand political scientist says.

If the controversial Republican presidential nominee wins in November, the US political system, including mid-term elections, 50 state governors, and the Supreme Court, will protect the country from radical changes, University of Canterbury academic Dr Amy Fletcher believes.

"Even if Trump is every negative thing that his opponents say that he will be, I do think some of the rhetoric is getting a bit hysterical," she said ahead of her sold out University of Canterbury public lecture tonight, entitled: The Dis-United States? Clinton vs. Trump and the impact on New Zealand.

Dr Fletcher thinks Trump deserves credit for prompting debate on important issues like immigration, elitism within the Republican party, and America's role in the world.

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But if the billionaire real estate tycoon and reality TV personality does win the November 8 presidential election, he will have to temper some of his provocative language.

And Dr Fletcher thinks he has the ability to change, although she'd expect more "bellicose rhetoric" on questions like China and terrorism, while continuing America's apparent move towards isolationism.

"Trump's brash, politically-incorrect New Yorker-style doesn't translate well in New Zealand, and he's of course said some really outrageous things. I know he's still a devisive figure, but compared to the [presidential] primaries I do think he's sounding more presidential than he certainly did at the beginning of the primaries season. I think he is savvy enough to change, if he needs to," she said.

During the 45-minute public lecture, Dr Fletcher will cover the election's two mainstream candidates, the Hilary Clinton-Bernie Sanders divide, the angry voter, and the implications of the election outcome on United States foreign policy and US-NZ relations.

She thinks Trump could edge out a close win in an election where the key issues are the economy, American security and stability, and the key battleground states will likely be Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

"This has been a very weird election and I do think it'll be a very tight race," Dr Fletcher said.

Former US Ambassador to Finland during Bill Clinton's presidency, Derek Shearer will give a University of Canterbury public lecture on his views on the Presidential election on August 16.