USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page breaks down the four things everyone should be looking forward to hearing in the first 2016 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. USA TODAY
The first fall presidential debate of 2016 is being anticipated with all the hype (and class) of a heavyweight boxing match. Perhaps we should call it “Smackdown at the Mack,” since it is being held at the Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on New York’s Long Island.
So how should you watch this D-Day of Debates? We have some tips for you:
What time does it start?
Monday’s debate — and all other debates of this presidential cycle — starts at 9 p.m. ET and lasts for 90 minutes. It will be moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt, and the announced topics are “America’s Direction, Achieving Prosperity, (and) Securing America,” which pretty much leaves room for anything Holt wants to ask.
Who will be on stage?
Just Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Neither Libertarian Gary Johnson nor Green Party candidate Jill Stein met the threshold set by the Commission on Presidential Debates for getting into the debate, both failing to have “demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate” based on polls. Four years ago, Stein protested her exclusion from the debates by getting arrested at this same site for civil disobedience, and she told our Susan Page in August that she plans to do it again this year.
Where can I watch it?
This debate will be broadcast everywhere. All the major networks will have it live, the cable networks will have it live, it will be livestreamed on websites, social media platforms and even broadcast on live radio. Facebook and Twitter will both livestream the debate. And no doubt, someone will be covering the debate with Snapchat’s new Spectacles, for those who don’t have the attention span for Twitter.
About the only place you won’t find the debate is ESPN, which is airing the Monday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. Trump had raised concerns when the debate was first scheduled that it would be competing for attention with an NFL game, but those of us from the industrial Midwest would be happy to explain why Falcons-Saints playing inside a concrete dome is not actually an NFL game.
Got any good second screen options?
The eggheads at Dartmouth College and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell have launched a new app called “HillaryDonald” that allows users to virtually “boo” or “cheer” the candidates by shaking or tapping their phones. The details of all this enthusiasm are then aggregated into cool maps and graphs displaying reaction around the country. They also have built a Twitter sentiment analysis tool called TwitterScope that tries to categorize tweets by ideology and negative or positive sentiment. We applaud the effort but caution that here at USA TODAY we are wildly skeptical of sentiment analysis on social media. It is really, really hard to do.
What happens after the debate?
Well, Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, so if you are enraged/inspired/motivated/disgusted by what you see on stage, the first thing you should do is register to vote. There are voter registration events scheduled all over the country, and there is even one in New Orleans a few blocks from the Superdome, so folks finishing off the Monday Night Football after-party can wander over and get registered.
Clinton and Trump will both be hitting battleground states hard in the next few days. Clinton heads to North Carolina on Tuesday, while Trump will hold a campaign rally in Florida.
But when is the next debate?
The next debate is the vice presidential contest between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence. That will be held Oct. 4 at Longwood Universtity, a small campus in rural Virginia about an hour west of Richmond. Kaine, the former governor of Virginia who is now a U.S. senator from the commonwealth, gets home-field advantage here.
Trump and Clinton will face off again Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis.
If you are jonesing for more debates, our pals at C-SPAN are airing congressional and gubernatorial debates from races around the country. Oh sure, you may not be able to vote for any of these people, but it can be great television. Who can forget the best moment of the 2014 campaign cycle: the Idaho gubernatorial debate that one candidate summed up as a choice among “a cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker or a normal guy.”
The Utah gubernatorial debate is Tuesday; check local listings for when C-SPAN will air it.