With 35 days to Election Day 2020 (and just hours to the first debate!), here’s the news that you’ll want to know:
And on the campaign trail today:
President Trump and Joe Biden will meet at the first presidential debate tonight at 9pm Eastern in Cleveland, Ohio. They won’t wear masks but they won’t shake hands at the debate due to COVID precautions. There will be a small live audience, estimated to be about 60 people compared to the normal 900 to 1,200 at a debate, according to CNN.
Get ready for tonight’s debate! Three out of four registered voters are expected to tune in.
“Almost three in four registered voters say they plan to tune in to the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday night, according to a new poll from Monmouth University. The survey found that 74 percent of respondents plan to watch the debate moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, including 78 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Independents.” (The Hill)
- What’s happening: We’re just hours away from the first presidential debate, which nearly three of four registered voters plan to watch. (We assume you’ll be watching too!) Here’s what you’ll want to know ahead of tonight:
— Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News announced the six debate topics last week: COVID, the economy, the Supreme Court, both candidates’ political records, election integrity, and race and violence in cities.
— The debate will be 90 minutes and run without commercials. It’ll be divided into six 15-minute segments, with one topic previously announced assigned to each segment.
— This year, the media is strongly emphasizing fact-checking in its coverage. That’s a veiled insult to President Trump, of course; the media wouldn’t let him say the sky was blue without a five-paragraph response.
- What’s at stake: This is the biggest event of the 2020 election so far, especially given the unusual campaigning due to COVID.
(1) Lots of voters are tuning in, per the Monmouth University poll shared above.
That means it may be the one attempt to shake up the race, especially since voters have not seen much of Biden on the campaign trail since the Democratic primary.
But keep in mind that some Americans have already voted and reports from Axios indicate that “more Americans have made up their mind by this point compared with years past.”
So it would likely take a major or unexpected debate outcome to shift the race.
(2) President Trump is expected to be the stronger debater. He stood out in the crowded 2016 Republican primary thanks to his performance on the debate stage, and he outshone Hillary Clinton in the three presidential debates following.
And Rudy Giuliani, who has helped the President prep for the debates, said: “I think this is a great opportunity for the president to really just be himself. He doesn’t have to hold back very much. He doesn’t have to hold back at all, really.”
Since Biden was off the trail for nearly a week for debate prep, if he under-performs, he’ll reinforce a key Trump campaign criticism: that Biden is not up to the job of president.
(3) The debate is expected to get personal — perhaps even more than in 2016.
President Trump will likely bring up the Senate report of Hunter Biden’s questionable financial transactions, and just a few days ago Biden compared the President to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
Report: Kamala Harris may resume Senate work to join Amy Coney Barrett’s SCOTUS confirmation hearings.
“Harris’ team hasn’t made clear how she would split her time between Capitol Hill and the campaign trail if a hearing is called, but Harris made clear she opposes Barrett’s nomination.” (ABC News)
- What’s happening: Kamala Harris is still a Senator — and it’s reported that she may leave the campaign trail temporarily to join the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett. The Senate committee hearing is scheduled to begin on October 12.
- What’s at stake: This will put Harris at the center of the SCOTUS confirmation hearings — which is essential to the Democratic Party’s far-left progressive base but may be off-putting to more moderate voters.
(1) Harris may lead the toughest questioning against Amy Coney Barrett.
And right now, Democrats’ criticism of Amy Coney Barrett has gotten similarly personal: some on the left have even attacked her for adopting children.
(2) Harris’ involvement will likely bring up topics Joe Biden has ducked in the media.
Biden won’t commit to offering a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, and he won’t provide a clear answer on whether he supports packing the Court, i.e. dramatically expanding the number of Supreme Court Justices. That’s likely because the far left wants him to, but most Americans likely don’t.
New York City voters report issues with ballots: other peoples’ names, military ballots for civilians.
“New York City residents have reported receiving ballots with wrong information, sparking confusion and a response from the city board of elections department. […] ‘I spoke to someone at the Brooklyn office who genuinely sounded shocked and panicked when I told her the issue. I was rushed off the phone,’ John DePasquale, a New York City middle school teacher, tweeted in response.” (Daily Caller)
- What’s happening: As New York sends out absentee ballots to voters, concerning stories are popping up.
— In Brooklyn, residents reported that there were other peoples’ names on the security envelopes for their ballots. (The city blamed a vendor.)
But the mistake could have serious consequences: “If a voter were to sign the mistaken envelope, the ballot would be invalidated, according to city law, Gothamist reported.”
— In Queens, residents said they incorrectly received mail-in ballots designated for military service members — and they’re civilians.
- What’s at stake: First, and most important, Americans must be able to vote!
These errors are concerning, especially because the mistake in Brooklyn might lead to voters’ mail-in ballots being invalidated.
Second, this shows that President Trump and Republicans have been correct to raise concern about widespread, last-minute voting by mail.
There are concerns about voter fraud but also logistical concerns, as these seem to be clerical or printing errors that nevertheless could have major consequences.