12 feet and Plexiglass sheets will divide Pence and Harris in tonight's VP debate at the U

Posted at 9:47 AM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 11:47:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The much anticipated vice presidential debate at the University of Utah is just hours away.

Republican Vice President Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris, a Senator from California, will debate Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at Kingsbury Hall.

Harris has been in Utah since Saturday and Pence arrived Monday evening.

It’s the only debate featuring President Trump’s VP and Joe Biden’s running mate.

Rice-Eccles Stadium has been set up as a staging area. That’s where COVID-19 tests will take place. Everyone who enters the debate perimeter will need a green wristband meaning they tested negative.

Inside Kingsbury Hall, the candidates will be separated by twelve feet and sheets of Plexiglass.

That despite some push back from the Pence side.

Due to the coronavirus, only a small group will be allowed inside to watch, including about 60 University of Utah students.

The debate is expected to have a large TV and social media audience for several reasons. One is the chaotic nature of the first debate between Trump and Biden, which is not expected to happen this time. COVID-19 is expected to be a hot topic due to Trump’s diagnosis and the outbreak at the White House.

Another reason is that recent polls show a tight race, even in Utah, considered to be one of the reddest states in America.

A Y2 Analytics poll found Trump with a 10 percent lead over Biden. That seems large, but it’s relatively tight considering the last time a democrat carried Utah was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

“It's much closer than you'd expect for a state like this,” said Jason Perry with the Hinckley Institute of Politics. “Donald Trump at 50 percent, Joe Biden at 40 percent, that's a lead you'd expect to be much bigger considering where we are as a state of Utah. It kind of shows what Utah voters are like. They're not just about the party, they really are looking for the person. A lot of people have already made up their minds, that's clear from this poll, but it's so much closer than anyone would have expected.”

It remains to be seen if the vice presidential debate will cause a shift in the polls either way for Trump or Biden.

Utah voters will start receiving their ballots in the mail next week.

You can watch the debate live on FOX 13. It will also be live streamed on the FOX 13 news website and Facebook page.