Viewers have a variety of ways to tune in to the debate via television and streaming, with the debate starting at 9 p.m. ET. The major news networks such as ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, will broadcast the debate. Several news organizations have announced plans to stream the debate, including ABC and the Washington Post. C-SPAN is expected to stream the debate on YouTube.
“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace will moderate the event which will be divided into six 15-minute segments with focuses on “The Trump and Biden Records,” “The Supreme Court,” “COVID-19,” “The Economy,” “Race and Violence in our Cities” and “The Integrity of the Election.” The debate will last 90 minutes and there will be no commercial breaks.
Several details about the Tuesday debate are still unknown. The event will take place at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and according to CNN, it will be a socially-distanced event with an audience of 70, all of whom will undergoing COVID-19 testing for the protection of each other and the candidates. As part of the safety protocol, Trump and Biden will not shake hands.
The first presidential debate comes after the New York Times published a bombshell report on Sunday detailing the significant financial losses of Trump Organization entities, the nine-figure personal debt accrued by the president, and the accounting practices that resulted in the president paying only $750 in federal taxes during each of the first two years of his presidency. Trump tweeted that the report was “Fake News” but did not take advantage of the opportunity to provide any exculpatory evidence, such as his tax returns that the New York Times based their report on.
According to U.S. national polls aggregated by the BBC, Biden currently leads Trump by a margin of 50% to 43%, a lead he has maintained since the start of the year — although, at times, the margin has increased to 10%. The ability of national polls to predict voting results on election day, however, is suspect as they do not account for widespread voter disenfranchisement, suppression and gerrymandering that is part of the American electoral system.
The debates will give both candidates key opportunities to market themselves during an election season that has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced Biden and Trump to put most in-person campaign events on hold.
Presidential debates are highly-popular television events; the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Trump in 2016 was viewed by 84 million people, making it the most-watched debate in history. Tuesday’s debate is expected to see large viewership numbers due to concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, nationwide protests regarding policy brutality and systemic racism, and the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Tuesday’s debate will be followed by the sole vice-presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence on Wednesday, October 7, which will be moderated by Susan Page, USA Today’s Washington bureau chief.
The second presidential debate will be held on Thursday, October 15 and will be moderated by Steve Scully, political editor of C-SPAN, followed by a third and final presidential debate on Thursday, October 22, which will be moderated by Kristen Welker, NBC News’ White House correspondent. All of the debates will be 90 minutes long and will not have commercial breaks.
The 2020 presidential election is on November 3.