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Domenico Montanaro

This was maybe the worst presidential debate in American history.

If this was supposed to be a boxing match, it instead turned into President Trump jumping on the ropes, refusing to come down, the referee trying to coax him off, and Joe Biden standing in the middle of the ring with his gloves on and a confused look on his face.

Trump doesn't play by anyone's rules, even those he's agreed to beforehand. He's prided himself on that. But even by his standards, what Trump did Tuesday night crossed many lines.

President Trump and Democrat Joe Biden square off in the first of three general-election presidential debates Tuesday night.

The debate is high stakes and carries risks for both candidates.

Here are six questions ahead of the debate, to be moderated by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace beginning at 9 p.m. ET and held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

1. Can Trump avoid the sitting-president first-debate slump?

In response to President Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, Democratic nominee Joe Biden urged Democrats to vote in the presidential election to protect the Affordable Care Act.

"Vote like your health care is on the ballot — because it is," Biden tweeted.

Updated 5:54 p.m. ET

Saturday is a big day for the future of the country.

President Trump formally announced conservative federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett, a former law professor at Notre Dame and Supreme Court law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, said she would be a justice in Scalia's mold.

"His judicial philosophy is mine, too," Barrett said.

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Federal appeals court Judge Barbara Lagoa is high on President Trump's list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Updated Saturday at 5:22 p.m. ET

President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and is a favorite among social conservatives. They, and others on the right, view her record as anti-abortion rights and hostile to the Affordable Care Act.

If confirmed, the 48-year-old Barrett would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court and could help reshape the law and society for generations to come.

As if 2020 couldn't get any more politically contentious, a fight is underway over a Supreme Court vacancy — just 43 days until Election Day, and as Americans are already voting in some places during this election season.

Raising the stakes even more, this is not just any seat. It's the chair formerly held by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal and feminist cultural icon.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a major cultural moment and has potential implications for the next generation of American society.

Just look at the images of people who crowded the Supreme Court's steps Friday night after news of her death broke.

Weighing the president down in his reelection bid is his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and race relations, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

More than half of Americans — 56% — disapprove of the job President Trump has done handling the pandemic.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead President Trump in the 2020 presidential election nationally by a substantial margin, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Biden leads Trump by 9 points, 52% to 43%, among likely voters, the survey finds. This is the first time this election cycle the poll has screened for likely voters — this narrower group is the most likely to actually cast a ballot, compared to the larger group of people who are registered to vote.

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It looks, for now, like President Trump has bounced back a little after bottoming out.

The president was at a low point against former Vice President Joe Biden, but in the past month, even though Biden still has an edge, the landscape has tightened some, according to the latest NPR Electoral College analysis.

Where the major party presidential campaigns are spending their money on TV advertising can tell you a lot about where they're focusing their efforts.

And based on that, it's pretty clear that the race between President Trump and Joe Biden is coming down to just six swing states — Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. They are getting the lion's share of the TV advertising money from the campaigns and outside groups supporting them.

President Trump's base has gotten smaller.

That's a key finding of an analysis of how the U.S. electorate has changed since 2016, based on census data analyzed by the Brookings Institution and NPR.

In 2016, Trump was helped to victory by winning a record margin among white voters without a college degree. But in the last four years, they have declined as a share of the voting-eligible population across the U.S. and in states critical to the presidential election. Nationally, the group has gone from 45% of eligible voters to 41%.

Well, the 2020 national political conventions are over.

The Republicans wrapped up Thursday night, and there was a lot to digest, not least a clearer sense of what the post-Labor Day sprint is going to look and sound like.

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Follow live coverage of the RNC all week at NPR.org/conventions.

The first night of the Republican National Convention was a little scattershot. It seemed to be partially about counter-programming the Democratic National Convention last week, partially intended to fire up the base and partially aimed at winning back some of those 2016 Trump voters who are having second thoughts.

Since the Democrats wrapped up their glitch-free virtual convention, now it's Republicans' turn.

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We're going to begin the program today by looking ahead to the Republican convention that starts tomorrow. Over four days, the GOP will make its case to voters. Here to preview the events is NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro.

Democrats have to be very happy with what they were able to accomplish this week with their convention.

Their production of the first all-virtual convention went off mostly without a hitch. At times, the last night seemed like whiplash with a serious segment on faith and forgiveness followed by snark from emcee Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for example.

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On the first night of their convention, Democrats and some Republicans made their case against President Trump. On the second night, the party did some formal business.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2020 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION)

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Updated at 11:19 a.m. ET

The Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday night in its first completely virtual, made-for-TV incarnation. It was unlike any convention night seen in years past. The most glaring difference: the absence of delegates and an audience.

That presented hurdles that the party tried to vault with a highly produced event that felt, at times, like a political infomercial mixed with a bit of "We Are The World" — and included one standout speech from former first lady Michelle Obama.

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