Nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates Announces 2020 Debate Details

October 11, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday announced the sites, dates and qualification details for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate leading up to the 2020 general election.

The sites and dates are as follows:

·       The first presidential debate will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana;

·       The vice presidential debate will be on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah;

·       The second presidential debate will be on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and

·       The third and final presidential debate will be held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Each of the debates will start at 9 p.m. Eastern Time and will run for 90 minutes and be televised without commercial interruption.

The commission said it will announce additional details, including the debate formats and moderators, next year.

The Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987 and has sponsored and produced all of the general election presidential and vice presidential debates since then.

The organization receives no funding from the government or any political party or campaign.

2020 Candidate Selection Criteria

The Federal Election Commission requires debate sponsors make their candidate selection decisions on the basis of “pre-established, objective” criteria.

To qualify to participate in the 2020 general election debates the Commission on Presidential Debates says that in addition to being Constitutionally eligible to run for president, candidates must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College.

In addition, the candidate must show they have the support of at least 15% of the electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations.

The commission said it will identify the selected polling organizations well in advance of the time the criteria are applied.

Dorothy Ridings, former president of the League of Women Voters chaired the working group that adopted the 2020 criteria.

In a statement she said, “We concluded that the [commission] serves its voter education mission best when, in the final weeks of the campaign, based on pre-established, published, objective and transparent criteria, it identifies those individuals whose public support places them among the leading candidates and invites them to debate the issues of the day.  

“We also concluded that the best available measure of public support is high-quality public opinion polling conducted near the time of the debates,” Ridings said.

The names of the candidates approved for participation will be announced after Labor Day, but

sufficiently in advance of the first-scheduled debate to allow for orderly planning, the commission said.

Invitations to participate in the vice presidential debate will be extended to the running mate of each of the presidential candidates qualifying for participation in the commission’s first presidential debate.

Invitations to participate in the second and third of the commission’s scheduled presidential debates will be based upon satisfaction of the same multiple criteria prior to each debate.

For additional information, visit debates.org.

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