Photo via Tony Fischer/Flickr

What time are the presidential debates?

Let's get ready to rumble—rhetorically, that is.


Aaron Sankin


Published Jul 13, 2016   Updated Feb 29, 2020, 3:50 am CST

The presidential debates are kind of like the Super Bowl of U.S. politics. And, just like the actual Super Bowl, lots of people need to know when they’re happening.

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates—a private, nonprofit corporation established as a joint effort by the Democratic and Republican parties in the late 1980s to run general election debates between major party candidates—there will be three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.

The debates will feature Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. What’s unclear is if they will also include a third-party candidate, particularly Libertarian Gary Johnson. According to the commission’s rules, Johnson would need at least five national public opinion polls showing him netting at least 15 percent support.

All debates run from 9-10:30pm ET.

Debate No. 1

The first debate will be held on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. It will consist of six 15-minute segments, each one devoted to a specific policy topic. Like all the other debates, it will last 90 minutes.

Debate No. 2

The only vice presidential debate, the second matchup for the general election cycle is being held on October 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. It will be mix of short answers and longer, more in-depth discussions about specific topics.

Debate No. 3

The second presidential debate is being held on October 4 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. This one is in a town hall format, where questions from the moderator will be interspersed with questions from undecided voters both in the audience and sourced from sources like social media.

Debate No. 4

Held at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, the final presidential debate’s format will echo the first—a half-dozen 15-minute segments on a variety of topics.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Update 3:38pm, July 19: Wright State University, which was the initial venue for the first debate, has dropped out, citing rising costs and security concerns. Hofstra University will host instead.

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 13, 2016, 7:00 am CDT