Presidential Debate 2020: Why the Final Trump-Biden Showdown Is Worth Watching

Going into their dueling town halls events last week, Joe Biden led President Donald Trump by 9.2 points in the NBC News national polling average. Most swing-state polls in recent months have shown Biden to be the favorite.

You can believe your lying eyes. The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden really was only 20 days ago. So what's happened in the three weeks since?

Well... not much.

Only Trump himself contracting COVID-19 after a super-spreader event at the White House that also infected his wife and several members of his inner circle; the beginning of a contentious confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; COVID-19 deaths topping 220,000 in the U.S.; a vice-presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence; and both Biden and Trump staging competing town hall events in lieu of the scrubbed second presidential debate.

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Two weeks before Election Day, coronavirus infections are surging to their highest levels since July. At least 10 states reported their highest single-day number of infections ever over the weekend, and some health experts are predicting the possibility of 100,000 daily U.S. infections in the near future.

Going into their respective town halls, Biden led Trump by 9.2 points in the NBC News national polling average. Most swing-state polls in recent months show Biden to be the favorite.

Fears of voter complacency among Democrats prompted Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon to issue a memo over the weekend reminding would-be supporters of the similar dynamics that shaped the final weeks of the 2016 election.

“The reality is that this race is far closer than some of the punditry we’re seeing on Twitter and on TV would suggest,” O'Malley Dillon wrote. “If we learned anything from 2016, it’s that we cannot underestimate Donald Trump or his ability to claw his way back into contention in the final days of a campaign, through whatever smears or underhanded tactics he has at his disposal.”

Here's why it's a big deal. Thursday's debate will be the final time both men will share a stage before the Nov. 3rd election. It will be the last chance many undecided voters have to see both men debate the topics before casting their votes.

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden will have their microphones cut off during Thursday’s final presidential debate while their opponent delivers initial two-minute answers to each topic, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday.

The commission said both microphones will be on, however, during open-discussion segments of the debate.

When and How to Watch:

  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 22
  • Location: Belmont University in Nashville
  • Time: 9-10:30 p.m. Eastern
  • Where to watch: The debate will be carried on most major news stations including NBC and MSNBC
  • Topics announced:  Fighting Covid-19; American families; Race in America; Climate change and National security
  • Debate format: Each segment will last about 15 minutes, and the candidates will have two minutes to respond after the moderator question
  • Moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchor of “Weekend Today.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.