After a lengthy process that happens every four years, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced today the four universities which will play host to the three general election presidential debates and the sole vice presidential debate in 2020.

As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, which has sponsored all presidential and vice-presidential debates in the general election since 1987, the CPD is charged with organizing debates for the general election contest between the major candidates for president. The organization has taken criticism in recent election cycles, however, for allowing the two major parties to crowd out any third-party candidates from debate participation.

The CPD’s site selection offers one debate out west, in Utah, while the remainder span from a trip south to Tennesee all the way up to Michigan, with Indiana sandwiched in between.

Here is the official list from the Commission on Presidential Debates:

First presidential debate
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Vice presidential debate
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Second presidential debate
Thursday, October 15, 2020
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Third presidential debate
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

The Midwest and rust belt will decide the 2020 election, as those areas did in 2016. President Trump knows this which is why he’s pushing hard into states like Minnesota and Michigan. Democrats also know they must also work to rebuild their “blue wall” coalition in these states so the locations are timely as it relates to electoral politics. The emphasis on these states, with Indiana and Michigan, specifically, illustrates how critical they will be for both parties in 2020.

Earlier this year, the commission announced six cities that submitted applications to be considered to host the 2020 presidential debates. These cities included Nashville, Tenn., Hartford, Conn., Omaha, Neb., Ann Arbor, Mich., Notre Dame, Ind., and Salt Lake City, Utah.

It’s likely that one of these locations which were not selected will serve as a backup in case one of the selected sites is unable to accommodate the debate. This sometimes happens for financial reasons since debate logistics are very costly for the university. In 2016, Wright State University pulled out of hosting a debate citing costs and security concerns. Hofstra Univerity served as the backup in that case.

What time are the debates?

Each debate will start at the same time on their respective nights and air for 90 minutes. The start time is 9 pm ET, 6 pm PT. The debates will air live on all major broadcast and cable networks including live internet streams available practically everywhere.

Where can I get tickets?

You can find some ticket information available at our 2020 Presidential Debate ticketing page. Note that tickets are usually extremely limited, and reserved for faculty and students at the host universities in most cases. Public availability for the tickets, if you’re not a student or staff of the university, is rare, and in some cases simply not offered.

More information

For the most up-to-date information, visit our 2020 Presidential Debate schedule page which will be updated as information becomes available.


  1. IMO, I sincerely hope the powers that decide such matters establish some new rules or platform for the Presidential debate – maybe taking a page from the Miss America & Miss Universe pageants (No, I’m not kidding). I suggest installing a silencing booth for the two candidates thus silencing the one while the other is given the opportunity to answer/respond to questions. The person in the booth is allowed to hear what is being said, but can not interrupt. Furthermore, when their time runs out, the silencing is initiated and literally ‘turns them off’ (or, cuts them off) thus forcing participants to comply with the rules. Additionally, this benefits those who actually ‘play by the rules’ rather than the current system which benefits the rule breakers and bullies while penalizing those with manners and respect (which also supports parents attempting to raise well behaved children & a positive message to society)

    By initating something like this, maybe the Public will actually hear an exchange of ideas as opposed to watching something resembling a modern gladiatorial exhibition. Again, just my opinion, however if we (the general public) are forced to indure ‘business as usual’, than what we will witness will be anything but a debate.

    • Nice thoughts but your rules wouldn’t allow for a “debate” on issues. People want to witness someone who is in control under challenging circumstances.

      It is up to the moderators to have an orderly debate/discussion.

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