The Note: Voters get direct say as Trump faces town-hall audience

Trump will sit down for a 90-minute ABC News town hall with uncommitted voters.

September 15, 2020, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

An election is, by definition, about voters. But even as ballots are being sent out, real voters have been a missing element from the campaign for most of this unusual election year.

That begins to change on Tuesday in Philadelphia. President Donald Trump will sit down for a 90-minute ABC News town hall with uncommitted Pennsylvania voters at the National Constitution Center, airing at 9 p.m. ET; former Vice President Joe Biden will have a town hall of his own in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in Thursday on CNN.

Jennifer Gance votes in the primary election at a polling center in Denver, Colo., June 30, 2020.
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images, FILE

Aside from a pair of Fox News events this spring, Trump hasn't faced direct voter questions all election cycle. Biden hasn't had an in-person town hall with voters since February and most of his campaign events now include no members of the general public.

Much has been made about the disappearing "undecided" vote in 2020. A recent Monmouth national poll found only 3% of registered voters hadn't decided who to vote for, and an NBC/Marist Pennsylvania poll last week pegged the number of undecided voters as 2% of both registered and likely voters.

But not all voters who have chosen between Trump and Biden have committed to voting for one or the other. This phase of the campaign -- with unpredictable formats including town halls and then debates -- represents fresh opportunities in a race that remains primed for disruptions.

Judgments about candidates often center on intangible qualities like relating to the problems of regular people and being in tune with everyday life. COVID-19 has, among many other things, isolated politics from people whose backstories and livelihoods will animate choices.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

"I don't think science knows actually," Trump said while visiting California Monday to discuss the fires and extreme weather that have set the West Coast ablaze.

It’s a sentence his critics could say has largely defined the last year of his presidency -- from his handling COVID-19 and now to the realities of climate change.

For Trump, it's always Trump who knows best.

President Donald Trump takes to the podium during a ceremony to present the Distinguished Flying Cross to seven California National Guard helicopter crew members at McClellan Park, Calif., Sept. 14, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Biden has been quick to jump on this moment as his party too seems more even unified in the fight against climate change.

"We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here. And unless we take urgent action, it will soon be more catastrophic; a president who recognizes, understands and cares that Americans are dying, which makes President Trump's climate denialism, his disdain for science and facts, all the more unconscionable," said Biden Monday on the issue.

The full-steam ahead push with Democrats might not only reflect the severity of the storms and smoke, but the politics of this election. It was only four years ago that the Green Party candidate won thousands of votes away from Hillary Clinton in key states.

The TIP with Kendall Karson and Meg Cunningham

The end is here. For primary season, that is.

Delaware, the First State, is the last state to hold down-ballot voting on Tuesday in a primary cycle that has seen some historic firsts. Between voting amid a pandemic to bringing more diversity to Congress' ranks, the 2020 election is expected to be unlike any before.

House Democratic women pose for a portrait in front of the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 04, 2019.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

In November, voters could potentially elect a record-setting slate of Republican women to Congress, a historic number of Black women to the House, the most LGBTQ candidates than ever before and the youngest member in Congress. It's a clear succession of a trajectory that began in 2018, when the country elected a record number of women who now make up nearly 25% of the 116th Congress.

"You just start to see a little bit of these changing dynamics so Republican women are making gains, but Democratic women are still sort of ahead of them," Kelly Dittmar, the director of research at the Center for American Women and Politics, said before adding, "There are more competitive Republican women candidates."


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee, who joins us from the road on her way to Biloxi, Mississippi, ahead of Hurricane Sally making landfall Tuesday morning. FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley tells us what experts are saying about the prolonged legal battle that could ensue following election night. And, ABC News' Patrick Reevell brings us the latest on the unrest in Belarus following the meeting between its embattled president and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. Recent polling shows that President Donald Trump is improving his standing among Latino voters in the presidential race, particularly in Florida. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew talks to pollster Carlos Odio about political trends among Latinos. They also discuss whether polls in the Midwest could be biased against Republicans -- as they were in 2016 -- and whether scandals still matter.


  • ABC News hosts a town hall with President Donald Trump and uncommitted voters. The '20/20' special event, hosted by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, airs from 9 to 10:30 p.m. ET and 8 to 9:30 p.m. CT on ABC and ABC News Live. ABC News Live will also have pre- and post-show coverage for more context and analysis.
  • Jared Kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law, appears on ABC's "Good Morning America."
  • Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Democratic presidential candidate, and husband Chasten Buttigieg, author of "I Have Something to Tell You," appears on ABC's "The View."
  • Vice President Mike Pence travels to Ohio to host a campaign event at 11 a.m. in Zanesville.
  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden travels to Florida. At 1:30 p.m., he holds a roundtable with veterans in Tampa. After, Biden will attend a Hispanic Heritage Month even in Kissimmee at 6:30 p.m.
  • Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris will be in California meeting with emergency service personnel for an assessment of the wildfires in California. In the afternoon, she travels to Las Vegas.
  • Former second lady Jill Biden travels to Michigan to tour The Kids' Food Basket, an organization feeding food insecure children, in Grand Rapids at 10:55 a.m. Then, she visits Battle Creek where she and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer participate in a listening session with military families at 2 p.m.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

This report was featured in the Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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