By Maisie Cocker
As Americans anxiously await November 3rd, The Nation’s Election Day, information spreads like wildfire about candidates in both parties. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic tearing through the US for the eighth month, there is one accessible way for most citizens to watch the candidates speak on their values and plans: The Presidential Debates, streamed and broadcasted virtually on a multitude of platforms. After a chaotic first debate between the Democratic Party’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and sitting Republican president Donald J. Trump on September 29th, the American people were left disappointed with very little to inform them of any game-changing plans or policies to take into account when filling out their ballots. The debate was received so poorly, that shortly after plans were being made by the Commission of Public Debates (CPD) to restructure the next debate for efficacy.
The Friday following the first debate (October 2nd), Mr.Trump, and many of his colleagues, announced they had tested positive for the novel Coronavirus. With the second presidential debate being scheduled for October 15th, Biden’s campaign decided they would debate virtually (a very timely format) or not at all in precautions of any possible COVID-19 transmission. Trump’s campaign refused a virtual debate, and so at the will of an impasse, the CPD canceled the second debate. This specific cancellation was disadvantageous to both parties, as it is the only debate through which voters ask the questions.
As a safer alternative, Biden’s campaign was hosted for a town hall with questions from George Stephanopoulos on ABC News. Mr.Trump did the same on NBC News, with questions being posed by Savannah Gutherie. These events were held on the same day the second debate was scheduled, October 15th.
Mr. Trump and his family recovered (past the point of being contagious), uplifting many of the momentary precautions that had been blocking the next debate. On October 22nd in Nashville Tennessee at Belmont University, candidates engaged in a final in-person debate, just nine days before election day. It is important to note that as of two days before this final debate, at least 47.1 million people across the country had already cast early-votes according to the Washington Post. Going into the debate, Mr.Biden held a strong lead in the polls.
The debate was set to have six 15-minute segments in which each candidate would start with two minutes of uninterrupted speaking. There were six issues covered in the debate. Those included were Fighting Covid-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership. The moderator of this debate was Kristen Welker, a television journalist for NBC and White House correspondent. Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden both remained significantly more ordered and civil in this debate, a shift notable from the start.
There were multiple claims made by both candidates that fact-checkers from many news sources later determined to be untrue, with Mr. Trump making more false claims than Mr. Biden. This a flaw of a live debate from which falsehoods or fake-news can be derived.
There were multiple interpretations of who “won” the debate, however, one clear conclusion made by viewers from both parties was the success of Welker in controlling and moderating the course of the debate. She was successful in delivering difficult questions, maintaining a stable time table, and overall order.
Throughout the debate, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump addressed each other’s alleged scandals or mishaps, while also stating policy and intents as a candidate. There weren’t any huge game-changers mentioned during the debate, and polls show that it didn’t have a significant effect on voter opinions. With election day quickly approaching, the fate of the country falls into the people’s hands. While the debates didn’t seem to sway any large masses or groups, there is still room for anything to happen on election day.