5 Storylines to Watch During the 3rd Presidential Debate

It's the final Clinton-Trump showdown.

ByABC News
October 19, 2016, 4:32 AM

LAS VEGAS — -- Tonight brings something that political reporters, campaign aides and much of the American public have been looking forward to for months, if not more than a year: the showdown of the 2016 presidential race.

This cycle's third presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should be the last time the two candidates directly address each other before the election on Nov. 8.

After they leave the stage tonight, they're off on their own sprints to the finish, focused on events designed to boost their support in the last 20 days of the race.

Here are five storylines to keep in mind while watching the debate.

What Happens in Vegas Won't Stay in Vegas

Tonight Clinton and Trump will face off a final time at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas — the beginning of the end of their campaigns.

The past two debates had the largest audiences in presidential history, and all signs point to tonight's debate serving to completing a ratings hat trick.

Though they both have a bevy of campaign events between now and Election Day, they can't reach as many people at those events as they can from the debate stage.

As a result, this could be their last chance to really connect with a large number of undecided voters before ballots are cast.

The Final Face-Off

Over the course of the first two debates, the candidates have become progressively less cordial. Trump has dropped the pleasantries from the first debate, when he referred to Clinton as "Secretary Clinton," and she addressed him as "Donald." They both dispensed with the theater of the polite handshake at the start of the second debate.

Though it seems unlikely that they will return to protocol, a handshake at the start of the third debate could be an olive branch as they head into the final 20 days of campaigning.

Rhetoric About Rigging

Trump has spent much of the past few days talking about how he believes the election is "rigged," without providing evidence to support those claims.

He mentioned the "rigged" nature of the election more than 20 times over the weekend, sewing it into the latest iterations of his stump speech and making it a near certainty that he'll bring it up tonight.

Exchanges Over Email

Clinton's campaign has been plagued by questions about her use of a personal email server during her days at the State Department, and the latest email-related scandal appears to be out of her team's control.

WikiLeaks has been releasing internal Clinton campaign communications — discussing campaign strategies and voter groups in a negative light — among Clinton's top aides, putting them on the defensive to explain. New leaks seem to be coming in a continual drip, which doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

Swing State Showdown

Nevada is one of the states in play right now. ABC News has declared the state a toss-up in the presidential race.

The turmoil goes beyond the top of the ticket. There is a close battle for a Senate seat in the Silver State, since Sen. Harry Reid's exercise accident in 2015 prompted him to announce his retirement.

So while Trump and Clinton will be addressing viewers on the national level, working in some local flavor could help them win over area voters as well.

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