A majority of Americans disagreed with President Trump’s decision to skip the virtual forum with Joe Biden (D) in lieu of an in-person debate, a Morning Consult/Politico survey released Friday revealed.
The survey, conducted Thursday, October 8, among 1,717 registered voters, found that a majority of voters approved of the commission’s initial decision to alter the dynamics of the upcoming debate by moving it to a virtual forum, with 64 percent approving and 26 percent disapproving.
A slight majority, 51 percent, indicated that they disapproved of President Trump rejecting the virtual forum, compared to 35 percent who approved. However, a majority of Republicans, 60 percent, said they approved of Trump’s decision to skip the forum, while the vast majority of Democrats opposed:
Eighty-four percent of Democratic voters and 62 percent of independents backed the CPD’s decision to change things up as the president continues to receive treatment for his COVID-19 infection, while GOP voters were split, with 44 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed.
Sixty percent of Republicans said they approved of Trump’s decision to skip the debate, while a quarter disapproved. Three in 4 Democrats disapproved of the decision, as did half of independents.
The survey’s margin of error is +/- 2 percent.
On Thursday morning, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced its decision to move October 15’s in-person debate to a virtual forum — a move the president immediately dismissed.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the board said in a statement.
“The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida,” it added.
Trump quickly dismissed the plan, emphasizing that he would not participate in the forum.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said, prompting his campaign to later suggest that they move the second presidential debate to October 22 and third debate to October 29.
While the Biden campaign initially signaled that the former vice president would participate in the online discussion, his campaign later said the presidential hopeful would instead “find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15.”
“We hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd, so the President is not able to evade accountability,” Biden campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement:
JUST IN: @JoeBiden also will not participate in the Oct. 15 debate, his campaign announces. Instead, @KBeds says Biden “will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks.” pic.twitter.com/vaBxRJSanw
— Ed O’Keefe (@edokeefe) October 8, 2020
On Friday, the commission formally canceled the October 15 debate.
“It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22,” the commission said in a statement.
“Subject to health security considerations, and in accordance with all required testing, masking, social distancing and other protocols, the debate will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee,” the statement added, noting that “both candidates have agreed to participate in the October 22 debate.”
Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who moderated the first presidential debate, said a virtual forum would be a “perfectly reasonable idea.”
“I know he says that he’s cured. I know he says that he doesn’t have COVID anymore, but, the White House has not told us that he is negative,” Wallace said during a recent appearance on the Brian Kilmeade Show.
“All the scientists say that it is 14 days, which would be within the window of next Thursday’s debate,” he added.