Tonight is the first 2020 presidential debate with President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden facing off on the debate stage for the first time. So just how long is the debate tonight? When does it end? Read on for more details, and see an embedded video for watching the debate live right here.
The Debate Is Scheduled to Last 90 Minutes, But the Debate Could Go a Little Long
Tonight’s debate began at 9 p.m. Eastern time and is scheduled to end at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. (That’s 8 to 9:30 p.m. Central time, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mountain time and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific time.)
Most of the major TV stations have allotted an additional 30 minutes on their schedule for airing tonight’s debate, allowing for it to go longer than 10:30 p.m. Eastern. The Democratic debates, which sometimes went into an “overtime” with so many candidates on the stage, were expected to be longer than tonight’s. However, tonight’s debate could go slightly longer than 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, depending on how long the moderator takes for followups or how long Trump and Biden go beyond their allotted time.
The final segment of the debate started just a few minutes before 10:30 p.m. Eastern, the original time the debate was scheduled to end. So yes, tonight’s debate will be a few minutes longer than originally scheduled.
The first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 was supposed to be 90 minutes long and ended up going 95 minutes long. So there’s recent precedent for the debate going a few minutes longer than planned.
The designated hour-and-a-half is divided into six 15-minute segments. The moderator, Chris Wallace, opens with a question, after which candidates have 2 minutes to respond, according to the Commission Presidential Debates. They can then respond to one another.
According to The Commission on Presidential Debates, the topics for tonight’s debate will include:
- The records of Trump and Biden.
- The Supreme Court.
- The economy.
- “Race and violence in our cities.”
- “The integrity of the election.”
The event will be 90 minutes of pure debating without commercial interruption. It will be aired on practically every major broadcast channel, from CNN to Fox News to MSNBC and local stations in many locations. Ratings are expected to be huge.
You can watch the debate in the stream below from C-SPAN.
The debate is co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic. It’s being held at the Health Education Campus at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s taking place in the Health Education Campus’s Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion.
What’s Next After Tonight?
After tonight, the vice presidential debate is next on Wednesday, October 7, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The moderator for this debate will be Susan Page of USA Today.
Then on Thursday, October 15, is the second presidential debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. The moderator for this debate will be Steve Scully of C-SPAN. This debate will be in a town hall format.
The third presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday, October 22, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The moderator for this debate will be Kristen Welker of NBC.
Each debate will be 90 minutes long without commercial interruption.