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USAFacts believes that reasoned, informed decisions can only happen when all Americans have access to the same nonpartisan data. This election season and beyond, USAFacts is presenting clear government data on where the country has been so voters can make thoughtful choices on where it should go.

To get started, here’s a recap of the data behind last night’s debate topics.


USAFacts has data on the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots expected this coming election. Voters cast a quarter of ballots by mail in 2018; this year, more than 85% of voters are eligible to vote by mail. In seven western states, voting by mail was the most-used method in 2018, with over 50% of ballots cast by mail.

By-mail voting in the 2018 midterm election

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Race in America

Regarding the national discussion on race, moderator Chris Wallace asked why Americans should trust President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden to address the issue. Recent reports at USAFacts measure differences in a variety outcomes by race, including unemployment. Black Americans have lost 13% of their jobs due to the pandemic, compared to 8.9% of white Americans, 11.1% of Asian Americans, and 12.8% of Hispanic Americans.

As for health outcomes, COVID-19 is just the start of disparities along racial lines. USAFacts has data on the underlying health disparities exacerbating the issue. Find much more on a range of facts within this topic at the Race in America page.

Crime data

California and Texas, the two most populous states, have the highest number of violent crimes in the nation. As for hate crimes, they are starting to tick up. Between 1996 to 2014, hate crime offenses decreased from 10,706 to 6,418. They've risen since then, reaching 8,496 offenses in 2018.

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Economic recovery and COVID-19

The candidates might disagree on how to reopen the economy, but voters can check the list of metrics and indicators in the COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Hub and decide the best path forward for themselves. For example, there were 12.6 million unemployment claims on September 12. That's down from 24.9 million on May 9, but up from the March 7 pre-pandemic level of 1.7 million.

Income taxes

Curious about what the average American family pays in taxes? USAFacts has a new report on that. This analysis breaks down taxes by income group, including the middle 20% of income earners, who paid an average of $15,748 in taxes in 2018.  

Average family taxes (2018)

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When it comes to policing and talking about law and order, discussions should include room for government data. To start, local governments spent an average of $340 per person on law enforcement in 2017. Read this report for specifics county by county.

USAFacts has more data on crime and justice here, from arrests to appeals court cases to homeland security.


The topic of preexisting conditions and healthcare came up early in the debate. A recent report at USAFacts shows that 8% of Americans, just over 26 million people, did not have health insurance last year. Of the 92% of people who had health insurance for all or part of 2019, employment-based insurance was the most common. Between 2018 and 2019, the percentage of people without health insurance increased in 19 states.

Uninsured rate by state

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For even more on presidential candidates' healthcare stances, visit the USAFacts Voter Center.

Whether it's an election at the local or federal level, a policy debate, or just a discussion about the nation, all Americans deserve data from government sources to inform their decision making.

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