US President Donald Trump and Democratic opponent Joe Biden will respond this Thursday night (early Friday morning in Lisbon) to questions from undecided voters live. But, contrary to what was predicted, they will not be the same voters nor will it be during a debate. The head-to-head fell apart and now there will be rival events at the same time. Who will win the war of audiences?
Trump’s diagnosis of covid-19 just days after the first debate with Biden jeopardized their second duel. The plans for the debate suffered a setback last week when the president – who has now recovered – declined to do so virtually, with each candidate in a different location to prevent transmission of the virus.
The debate was then canceled by the organizers, but neither candidate wanted to miss the opportunity to speak at the prime-time (the time of greatest audience) to the Americans – the first debate was seen by at least 73 million people on the 16 channels that broadcast it (and that number does not include those who saw on mobile phones or heard over the radio).
Thus, each will answer the questions of undecided voters, the assembly style (town hall, in English), at the same time (20.00 on the East Coast, 01.00 on Friday in Lisbon) but on different television stations. The event with Biden is expected to last two hours (which includes at least 30 minutes of debate after the town hall), while Trump’s only one (any analysis of the season will be later).
Biden will be in Philadelphia at an outdoor event at the National Constitution Center, broadcast by ABC and moderated by George Stephanopoulos. Barack Obama’s former vice president has always tested negative for covid-19.
Trump will be in Miami (the city where the second debate should have taken place), also outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum, in a town hall transmitted by NBC.
The president will be at a safe distance from the host, Savannah Guthrie, and the audience will wear masks. This despite the fact that NBC received information from the director of the National Institute of Health, Clifford Lane, that along with the leading specialist in infectious diseases in the United States, Anthony Fauci, he had access to Trump’s medical data and therefore a high degree of confidence “, he could say that the president” will no longer be able to infect anyone “.
Criticism of NBC
The station is being criticized for accepting the president’s event at the same time as the Democratic candidate’s, as this will deprive voters of the opportunity to attend both.
Katie Couric, one of the best-known American television journalists, who has worked for both ABC and NBC, summed up on Twitter: “Having a duel of town halls it’s bad for democracy. Voters should be able to see both and I think that many will not. This is going to be good for Trump because people like to see his unpredictability. This is a bad decision. #votem “.
NBC replies that putting Trump later on would not be fair, as the president could have access to a larger audience than Biden, who participated in such an event on the television station on October 5. Asked why they would not give Trump airtime the other day, NBC said the date was their choice, as the president had a free agenda because he was supposed to be in the debate.
The debate should also be in the format town hall, unlike the first one that put the two candidates to answer the moderator’s questions and ended up being marked by Trump’s constant interruptions to Biden and the attacks between them.
In the past, Trump has not seemed comfortable in this format. But as a former star of reality shows, Trump will focus on audience numbers, wanting to attract more people than Biden – which is more than likely, since his event will also be broadcast on the associated television stations MSNBC and CNBC, while ABC’s will also be broadcast on ABC
According to average polls on the RealClearPolitics website, Biden is 9.2 percentage points ahead of Trump nationwide, but despite continuing 4.9 points ahead of the president in major states, the trend is decreasing. According to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis, Biden has 87 out of 100 odds of winning on November 3rd.