Oct. 19 debate guide: Here's what to know for Wednesday's presidential debate showdown

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

It's been a long, wild, and by no means fun ride through this electoral season. The good news is that in less than a month, the U.S. public will finally see whether Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump will become the next president of the United States, and which candidate's supporters will be convinced the apocalypse is nigh thereafter.

But before the entropy swallows us all, there's still the matter of the third and final debate between Trump and Clinton. It will likely be the last time voters get the chance to see the two candidates on stage together, so here's what you need to know.

Presidential debate start time and moderator

The third presidential debate will air at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, Oct. 19, from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

The occasion will be moderated by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, who has said media figures are too easy on Trump in the past.

Highlights from second presidential debate

Source: Saul Loeb/AP

The first presidential debate was widely interpreted as a disaster for Trump, who respondents to credible polls and even his own surrogates overwhelmingly said lost the debate. Trump staunched the bleeding during the second debate on Oct. 9, putting in a performance which was widely acknowledged as better than his first, but also really only satisfactory if viewed in relation to that debacle.

Mic's running fact check of the second debate found Trump's statements that night contained misrepresentations, inaccuracies or outright lies. Some highlights included Trump describing a 2005 videotape of him graphically describing groping women "by the pussy" as mere "locker room talk," lying about which of the two candidates on stage aggressively promoted conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama's citizenship and seemingly just making up statistics about his tax plan and crime in black communities.

Trump also continued to lie about his supposed opposition to the Iraq War, despite a 2002 recording of him agreeing Saddam Hussein's government needed to be deposed while on the Howard Stern Show.

Clinton conversely had a relatively restrained night, attacking Trump for his statements on women and record of bigoted statements. She did mislead about the security of her private email server while secretary of state, pointing to the lack of evidence the system had been infiltrated despite the fact it is unclear whether the system was actually capable of identifying intruders.

Where the candidates are polling ahead of Wednesday's debate

It's hard to understate how dire the situation has become for the GOP. In the run-up to the election, exactly when it needs to be closing the gap with Clinton and ramping up his campaign operations, the Trump Train may have not only derailed but plunged directly into the underlying ravine.

Trump's myriad recent scandals, from a series of sexual assault allegations (and a videotaped confession of such) to investigations into whether he pays taxes (probably not) or runs his signature family charity in accordance with the law (nope), have seen him plummet in projections.

According to an average of polls kept by Real Clear Politics, in the three-way race with Trump, Clinton and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, Clinton holds an average 5.3% lead nationally. The website's trendline is pointing toward an even larger gap moving forward. Poll-tracking website FiveThirtyEight's polls-plus model, which incorporates economic and historical data, has Trump's odds of winning the election at just 18.6% as of Sunday evening.

Oh, well. Trump still has Reince Priebus on his side, for all the good that's going to do him.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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