The 2020 debates, thus far, have been wildly unpredictable.
“That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said after the Sept. 30 debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. “That was the worst debate I have ever seen.”
After a chaotic first presidential debate and dueling town halls in place of the canceled second debate, the Oct. 7 vice presidential debate and Thursday’s third presidential debate have even greater importance.
Voterise, a Utah non-profit, strives to increase voter registration and turnout among the 18- to 29-year-old demographic and underrepresented groups. Hope Zitting-Goeckeritz, the executive director of Voterise, encourages all voters to watch the debates, even if they are chaotic.
“The only thing worse than not voting, is voting uninformed,” she explained. “Watching the debates can confirm things so you aren’t hearing all your news from your aunt on Facebook.”
Zitting-Goeckeritz admitted she was disappointed with the first presidential debate, noting the substance of the exchange between Trump and Biden will not likely help voters decide their vote due to a “lack of policy exchanges.” Still, she said, candidates meeting on a stage before the public can impact voters.
With two presidential candidates in their 70s, the vice presidential candidates have drawn even more attention for their approach toward policy.
“The vice president is always just one lack of a heartbeat away from the presidency,” Zitting-Goeckeritz said.
Forrest Ross, a student at Salt Lake Community College majoring in political science, watched the presidential debate and said he didn’t learn much from the candidates.
“It was a mess,” he said. “The biggest issue was that President Trump was steamrolling over Biden and the moderator … The issues that the debate was supposed to cover were barely touched on at all.”
Before the debates, Ross said he knew how he was going to vote but wanted to see how candidates would touch on certain issues. But he doesn’t think that watching these debates will have any impact in this “already pulverized political climate.”
“I think most people already know what they want,” Ross explained. “But I do also think there is a minority of people who actually care about the issues.”