PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania, USA – As the US approaches the final month before the 2020 presidential election, the nominations have been set and eyes now turn toward the debate stage, beginning with the first presidential debate on Tuesday September 29th.

 The topics of deliberation have been established, and if the recent rallies and town halls in the election-deciding battleground states tell us anything, the upcoming clash between the two candidates will be contentious and subsequent media portrayal will be a critical factor in how people vote.  

Meanwhile, the polls continue to tighten between the candidates, and American voters are at a crucial political impasse as the November 3rd election looms: at the same time Coronavirus has taken over 200,000 lives and counting, and a Supreme Court seat held by the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg is open with potential to shape the court for decades – the entire direction of the country is on the line. These topics,

 along with the current state of and future of the economy, as well as the veracity of voting will be center stage come Tuesday evening.

Many national polls put the former VP in the lead anywhere from seven to ten points, but as seen in the 2016 election, these numbers don’t necessarily predict the outcome. Donald Trump has said he is not preparing for the debates, while the Biden campaign has been preparing through research and rapid-fire questioning.

 It is likely that the Trump campaign will stick to the same game plan as the 2016 debates; whereas Biden’s team is focused on preventing a tendency to commit verbal and mental blunders and, if the polls are correct, making it his race to lose.

These two candidates have little to no rapport with each other, having only met once at Trump’s inauguration, and their stances on the debate topics are complete opposites. On Covid-19, the incumbent has been touting his ‘successful’ response to the global pandemic, and is likely to push this while also continuing attacks

 on China. In contrast, Biden will try to persuade voters by pushing the reinforcement of the Affordable Care Act, giving better access to health care for all people, while his economic stance will focus on creating jobs for Americans and combating the pandemic-caused unemployment crisis.

But the 2020 debates also bring a much greater issue to the stage: the future of American government. Racial injustice protests have taken shape across the country; citizens have voiced their discontentment with police treatment of African Americans, but the federal government has taken little action to amend these issues.

 At the same time, the current administration has stated that they will fight to overturn Roe v. Wade if given the opportunity. Joe Biden is attempting to portray his empathy and support, calling for a woman’s right to choose and stricter gun laws; whereas

 President Trump has already appointed two conservative judges during his first term, and has stated his support for defunding reproductive clinics like Planned Parenthood.

While the world watches the first debate, more important than the conversation will be the media portrayal before and after the event. Research shows that the most watched part of all three presidential debates is the first 30 minutes of night one. Most viewers gather as much information as they can in this time, then rely on the media to fill in the rest – at times factual, sometimes hyperbolic, all too often simply false.

The presidential debates obviously carry a different weight than nomination debates and campaign speeches, but in 2020 there is more at stake than previous years. The current administration has stated that they would fight the election results if they lose, only adding to the pressure to vote. With the current president trailing in most polls, and a giant partisan divide in government and media, the first debate is set to bring nothing short of fireworks.

For Times Media Mexico
Dylan Volpintesta in Philadelphia

 

The Yucatan Times
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