Julio Cortez / AP
A pedestrian walks past the site for the third presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016.
By Megan Messerly ( contact )
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Debate day in Las Vegas is finally here.
It’s been more than a year since the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that UNLV had secured one of the three coveted slots. Apart from bringing the university and the city into the limelight, today is the third and final chance for voters to watch Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton square off before Election Day on Nov. 8.
Plus, early voting is already in full swing in a handful of states across the country — Arizona, Illinois and New Mexico, just to name a few. Nevada’s early vote period kicks off on Saturday and runs through Nov. 4.
As the election looms, the number of undecided voters is higher than one might think. Recent polling shows that only about 85 percent of the vote has been secured by either Clinton or Trump, compared with 95 percent around the same time in 2012 committed to either President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
With the stakes in mind, here’s a look at some of the logistics of the debate, along with what to expect tonight:
It’ll be held at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. The media will be housed in the adjacent Cox Pavilion. Most of UNLV’s campus will be open, though a perimeter will be set up around the event site.
That said, yes, you should probably avoid UNLV unless you absolutely need to get to campus for some reason. Road closures will be in effect from 4 to 10 p.m. today in the following areas:
• Southbound Interstate 15 from Sahara Avenue to eastbound 215 Beltway through the airport connector to Russell Road
• Russell Road both directions from McCarran International Airport to Maryland Parkway
• Maryland Parkway both directions from Russell Road to Tropicana Avenue
• Westbound Tropicana Avenue from Maryland Parkway to Swenson Street
• Swenson Street both directions from Naples Drive to Tropicana Avenue
For more details on road closures from the RTC and alternate bus routes, check here .
6 p.m. sharp. It’s an hour and a half long, no commercials.
Fox News’s Chris Wallace. Wallace, who anchors “Fox News Sunday,” will be the first Fox anchor to moderate a general election debate. “If people say, ‘it was a great debate and I don’t remember you being there,’ I will have done my job,” Wallace has said .
The debate will be split into six 15-minute segments, each focusing on a different topic. Those topics are: debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots, and fitness to be president.
No, only Trump and Clinton will be there. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein didn’t meet the 15 percent average polling threshold to qualify for the debate.
Stein, who also did not qualify for Nevada’s ballot, is expected to protest alongside other community members in the “free expression zone” set up outside of Thomas & Mack. Johnson, meanwhile, campaigned in Las Vegas Tuesday night at the Tommy Wind Theater at an event hosted by the Libertarian Party of Nevada.
Unless you received an invite (like those the university handed out to a select number of students), you won’t be able to attend.
There’s no shortage of watch parties happening across Las Vegas today. Here’s a sampling:
• Clark County GOP watch party, Neche Restaurant and Ultra Lounge at Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South ($30 admittance gets you a sandwich and soft drink)
• CSN North Las Vegas Campus watch party, June Whitley Student Lounge, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas
• CSN Charleston Campus watch party, D Building, Room 101, 6375 W. Charleston Blvd.
• CSN Henderson Campus watch party, C Building, Room 133, 700 College Drive, Henderson
• For Nevada’s Future watch party, 4120 N. Martin Luther King Blvd., North Las Vegas
• Great America PAC watch party, Stoney’s Rockin’ Country at Town Square, 6611 Las Vegas Blvd. South
• Hillary for Nevada official watch party with musician Vicente “Chente” Fernandez and the band Los Tigres del Norte, Craig Ranch Regional Park Amphitheater, 628 W. Craig Road
• Mi Familia Vota, CHISPA Nevada and iAmerica watch party, 2365 A Renaissance Drive
• NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada watch party, TheDive Bar, 4110 S. Maryland Pkwy.
The debate will be televised on every major network across the country — ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, you name it. It’ll also be live-streamed through YouTube , Facebook will live-stream ABC News’ coverage, and Twitter will live-stream the debate in partnership with Bloomberg.
Expect both Trump and Clinton to offer their closing arguments on immigration — from building the wall to offering a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the United States without authorization.
Notably, Clinton’s guests attending the debate from Nevada all have unique experiences with immigration: Dreamer Astrid Silva came to the United States undocumented as a 4-year-old; Trump International Hotel housekeeper Ofelia Diaz Cardenas now has a work permit, but was undocumented when she came to the country; and 11-year-old Karla Ortiz is the daughter of undocumented parents.
Expect Trump to pull out all the stops — attacking Clinton on everything from the most recent WikiLeaks dump of emails to Benghazi. Trump has even invited Patricia Smith, whose son was killed in Benghazi, as one of his guests.
Smith gave a passionate speech at the Republican National Convention blaming Clinton for her son’s death. “For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton. I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” Smith said.
Trump also has invited President Barack Obama’s Kenyan-born, half-brother Malik as one of his guests.
His rhetoric echoes that of Clinton’s rival in the Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who often spoke of a “rigged” economy. Many of Sanders’ supporters worried that the primary had been rigged against Sanders, and Trump has revived those sentiments at his own rallies.
Election officials in Nevada are already trying to quell any suspicions about whether the election will be fair. Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse and U. S. Attorney Dan Bogden held a press conference Tuesday where they assured Nevadans their votes are safe, that election machines are not capable of being hacked from afar, and that election task force members will be on hand to respond to fraud complaints on Nov. 8.
But Nevada, with its six electoral votes, stands to make a difference in the election if it’s close. Plus, it has voted for every president since 1912 with one exception — it picked Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Look out for any direct mentions or allusions to Nevada or any of the other critical swing states as both Clinton and Trump try to lock up those undecided voters before Election Day.
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Julio Cortez / AP