October 7, 2016 8:54 AM EDT

If you only read one thing: On Sunday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face off once again, and the stakes for Trump couldn’t be higher after his disappointing showing last week. Another weak performance could send Trump’s campaign into a tailspin and increase his odds of a loss by the day. Bipartisan projections show roughly 40 percent of voters will cast their ballots before Nov. 8, and already millions can be filled out, meaning even a strong showing in the final debate could be fleeting. Trump’s attempt at a preparatory town hall Thursday night was more of a “what not to do,” than a sign of an improving candidate. He attacked a GOP Senator, the press, and the Electoral College map, and delivered a number of falsehoods—and that was with a hand-selected moderator and an invite-only crowd of friendlies.

The second debate is a far harder proposition for both candidates. Instead of just a single moderator, there are two. And half of the questions will be offered by the invited audience of unaligned voters. The town hall format will test both candidates’ abilities to empathize with questioners—something they both have struggled with on the campaign trail. In the first debate, Clinton gave Trump a pass on the gaps in his policy agenda, but that is likely to change Sunday night, and once again she is plotting to get inside Trump’s head and set traps for him to alienate more voters. Trump had promised to be more aggressive, though aides now say he’s focusing on preparation on the issues more than “zingers.”

We’ll have complete coverage of Sunday’s debate from Washington University in St. Louis on TIME.com

A U.S. Senate candidate dabbed. Colbert trolls Trump with praise for Mike Pence. And Trump is tearing apart the NFL.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Democrats Grow More Vocal About Obamacare’s Shortcomings
TIME’s Sam Frizell on the Clinton criticism of Obama’s signature achievement

Donald Trump is Tearing the NFL Apart
Fights. Friendships ended. Racial divides. [Bleacher Report]

For Young Voters, ‘Hope and Change’ Is Dead
A group of 20-something voters illustrates young people’s consternation with their political choices this year [The Atlantic]

Top Evangelical College Group to Dismiss Employees Who Support Gay Marriage
TIME’s Elizabeth Dias on InterVarsity’s controversial HR moves

Trump’s Use of Debts and Tax Laws Spurs Concerns About his Methods
Experts curious how Trump avoided taxes [Washington Post]

White House Coordinated on Clinton Email Issues, New Documents Show
Emails obtained by the Republican National Committee find close contact with Hillary Clinton’s nascent presidential campaign in early 2015 [Wall Street Journal]

Sound Off

“They were saying this is practice for Sunday. This isn’t practice; this has nothing to do with Sunday. We’re just here because we just wanted to be here.” — Donald Trump at a town hall his aides billed as a tune-up for Sunday’s debate

“Hey, that’s his problem. He was not for me.” — Donald Trump on Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican likely to lose in November

Bits and Bites

President Obama Shortens the Sentences of 102 Drug Offenders [TIME]

Hillary Clinton Pulls Ads From Florida Weather Channel Because of Hurricane Matthew [TIME]

Trump: I won’t mention Bill Clinton’s past at next debate [NY Post]

Does Trump still support a Muslim ban? He won’t say, but Pence says: ‘Of course not.’ [Washington Post]

Donald Trump Flubs ‘Nevada’ Pronunciation While Teaching Reno Crowd How to Say It [TIME]

Yes, a U.S. Senate Candidate Dabbed at the California Debate [TIME]

Why You’re Seeing More TV Ads for Governor’s Races [Center for Public Integrity]

Stephen Colbert Trolls Donald Trump by Heaping Praise on Mike Pence [TIME]

Gary Johnson Says Libertarian Ticket Is ‘Absolutely Unified’ [Wall Street Journal]

‘Obama bros’ learn to love Hillary [Politico]

Kaine hits Trump over China remark [CNN]

Empire Cast Endorses Hillary Clinton in New Ad [TIME]

Department of Energy Wants ‘Justice for Barb’ [Washington Free Beacon]

Ryan cozies up to Trump [Politico]

Gov. Rick Scott says no to extending Florida voter-registration deadline [Tampa Bay Times]

Letterman Has No Love for ‘Damaged’ Trump [New York Times]


More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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