US election: The key dates

29th September – First Presidential debate where current Republican Party President Donald Trump and former Democratic Party Vice President Joe Biden faced off, chaotically, for the first time in Cleveland, Ohio. Biden proved he could hold up under pressure, as Donald Trump continually hectored and interrupted in a bid to rattle him. CBS News counted 73 interruptions.
 

7th October – Current Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Vice President nominee, Senator Kamala Harris will face off in Salt Lake City, Utah. This will be the only time the VP candidates will have the opportunity to confront one another in a public forum. 


15th October – Second Presidential debate held in Miami, Florida. The 90-minute debate will be moderated, and there will be a public audience that can ask questions. The candidates will be given two minutes to answer each question, with the moderator, Steve Scully from public service network C-SPAN, having the power to provide an additional minute for follow-ups. 

UPDATE: Cancelled - The Commission on Presidential Debates cancelled the event after suggesting a virtual debate which Donald Trump refused to take part in. While Joe Biden advocated for the online event following Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, the President refused, and the CPD said that it wouldn't reverse its decision given the Town Hall style format the debate was supposed to take, which posed too much risk to health and safety during the pandemic. The CPD said: '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.' Meanwhile, Trump appears to be announcing new dates for in-person events, even though he remains potentially contagious with his coronavirus diagnosis. 

22nd October – Third Presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee. This 90-minute debate will be divided up into 15-minute segments on prepared topics, and will be moderated by Kristen Welker, an NBC News correspondent. 

3rd November – Election day - depending on how close the result is, the winner may not be announced right away on election night. The first polls close at 19:00 local time on the East Coast (00:00 GMT). The victor is decided by how many states each nominee wins—each state has a certain number of electoral votes to offer dependent on its size and number of residents. To be President, 270 electoral votes are required, but there could be a delay while postal votes are counted. It's forecast 80 million postal ballots will be cast in the 2020 election, over double the amount used in 2016, due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's possible the US Postal Service, which has faced budget cutbacks and a refusal for funding from Trump, may be overwhelmed by the volume of postal votes, which has the potential to cause further delay. Additionally, there could be huge queues at polling stations due to the pandemic, and there are concerns over the amount of polling stations that will be open—expected to be less than usual—and a shortage of workers for them.
 

The swing states – Biden is currently (at the time of writing – 30th Sept) ahead in the all-important battleground states, the same states that were pivotal in Trump’s 2016 election victory. These include Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 
 

The result – Although the apparent winner may choose to celebrate on the night or in the early aftermath, there may be potential for the true result to take longer to surface. Trump has suggested—without evidence—that there could be 'tremendous fraud' due to the postal votes, and if he loses, it's unlikely to be a smooth transition. Former candidate Hillary Clinton has said that Joe Biden should ensure every vote is counted, and that he shouldn't concede as the votes are rolling in 'under any circumstances, because I think this is going to drag out.' Trump has stated that he thinks the result could end up in the US Supreme Court. An event like this was last seen in the 2000 election and took 36 days to settle.


14th December – Members of the Electoral College cast votes for President. The candidate that wins each state's popular vote earns that state's electoral votes.


6th January 2021 – Congress meets in Washington to count the votes and announce a winner. 


20th January – Inauguration Day where the Presidential winner and new Vice President are sworn in.  


UPDATE: With President Donald Trump recently testing positive for coronavirus just a month before election day, there's the potential for the above schedule to be impacted as he's required to spend two weeks in lockdown at the White House. Despite being in apparent good health now, if the President's condition were to worsen, he may potentially have to withdraw from the race, leaving Mike Pence to assume the role of acting President. 


US election: The key dates – Economic data 
 

30th September – Final GDP Growth Rate Q2. 
 

1st October – Personal Income, Personal Spending, ISM Manufacturing. 
 

2nd October – Non-Farm Payrolls, Unemployment Rate, Average Earnings. 
 

6th October – Balance of Trade.
 

13th October – Inflation Rate. 
 

16th October – Retail Sales, University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment/ Expectations Surveys. 
 

27th October – Durable Goods Orders.
 

29th October – Advance GDP Growth Rate Q3.
 

30th October – Personal Income, Personal Spending.

 

Please note, this information was produced in September 2020, and some dates may be subject to change and additional events may be added.