Election Watch 4: The Final Presidential Debate, October 22

19.10.2020
covid white house

The last two weeks have been a roller-coaster ride for those following the presidential campaign (or circus, as some have come to call it).

First, President Trump came down with COVID-19 on October 2, was hospitalized and then returned to the campaign trail in a little over 10 days. Meantime, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) decided that the Second Presidential Debate to be held on October 15 would have to be a “virtual” gathering to safeguard the participants from possible COVID-19 infection by Trump. Trump promptly rejected such a “virtual” debate, forcing the CPD to cancel the event. Instead, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden held their own separate town hall meetings in different cities on October 15. That was an apt illustration of the deep political divisions between the two candidates and within the nation as a whole.   

We are now approaching the final Presidential Debate of the campaign on October 22. It has gained great interest for several reasons. Most importantly, it will be the final chance for President Trump to directly confront his opponent, Joe Biden, who is presently leading him by about 9% in national polls. This debate may be Trump’s last and best opportunity to catch up to Biden before Election Day on November 3. People will also be interested to see if this upcoming debate will be a replay of the first chaotic and controversial debate held on September 29 during which the rules were repeatedly broken and the moderator ignored.

After that encounter, the CPD said it would look into rule changes in order “ensure a more orderly discussion.” No hint of what these rule changes might be has yet been given, sharpening curiosity. In addition, many of those watching will be hoping that, this time around, the candidates will provide genuine insights into their politics and provide the public with reasons to vote for one or the other.

Whether or not those hopes will be fulfilled will depend on how the debate is conducted by the moderator and the two candidates. Whatever the outcome, it promises to be a lively – possibly explosive – affair. 

 

Final Presidential Debate, October 22, 09:00 – 10:30 pm

(Norway; October 23, 03:00 – 04:30)

Like the first debate, this final debate will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes. Each segment will focus on one of the six topics that have been selected by the moderator of the debate. They are the following (not necessarily in the order given below):

  • Fighting COVID-!9
  • American Families
  • Race in America
  • Climate Change
  • National Security
  • Leadership

 

PREPARATION

You might want to prepare a little before the debate by looking into how the candidates view one or more of the issues the moderator has decided to include in the debate. The following websites will help you:

Overviews of positions the candidates have taken on political issues:

Reuters: Where Biden and Trump stand on key issues – graphics

https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ELECTION/POLICY/ygdpzwarjvw/

ProCon - Compare 2020 Presidential Candidate Positions

https://2020election.procon.org/view.source-summary-chart.php

Ballotpedia – Click on Candidates on the Issues and select the issue you want

https://ballotpedia.org/Donald_Trump_presidential_campaign,_2020

CNN – Click on Trump’s/Biden’s stances on the issues

https://edition.cnn.com/election/2020/candidate/trump
https://edition.cnn.com/election/2020/candidate/biden

BBC - Where does Trump stand on key issues?

https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-53828147

BBC - Where does Biden stand on key issues?

https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-53575474

 

AFTER THE DEBATE

The Commission on Presidential Debates provides complete transcripts of debates after they are held, so you will want to go to its website when answering the questions below. Their address is:

http://www.debates.org/index.html

If you do not find the transcript there, you can look for it at:

Rev Debate Transcripts

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcript-category/debate-transcripts

Or you can search for "transcript presidential debate 2020" online, and then choose a reliable source, e.g. USA Today or MSNBC.

 

Questions

  1. Was this debate more “orderly” that the first one on September 29? What do you think of the way it was conducted?
  2. Did you feel that the audience had a chance to learn what the candidates’ positions were on the topics given? What do you think of this form of political debate?
  3. If you had been moderator in this debate, in which order would you have taken up the six topics? For what reason?
  4. How did Trump and Biden differ in their approach to fighting COVID-19? Which of the two did you find most convincing?
  5. What did the media have to say about who won this debate afterwards?
  6. Who do you think won this debate? Why?
  7. What effect has it had on the polls?

 

HELPFUL LINKS

CNN – America’s Choice 2020

https://edition.cnn.com/election/2020

BBC – US Election

https://www.bbc.com/news/election/us2020

US News – America 2020

https://www.usnews.com/news/elections

Washington Post – Election 2020

https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/

New York Times – Election 2020

https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/2020-election

Fox News – Democracy 2020

https://www.foxnews.com/category/politics/2020-presidential-election

National Public Radio – 2020 Election

https://www.npr.org/sections/elections/

Gallup’s 2020 Presidential Election Center

https://news.gallup.com/poll/267905/gallup-election2020-center.aspx

 

Election Polls

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_biden-6247.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-53657174

https://edition.cnn.com/election/2020/presidential-polls