Last night, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden had the first of their three debates. Here are my takeaways:
1. Trump is running out of time to make a comeback. The debates are his last best chance to make a comeback. The problem is there was little he could do last night to help his chances. He needed a massive gaff from Biden gaffe. Trump isn’t losing because voters think he’s doing a bad job– his approval rating is 45% in the RCP average but he’s only getting 43.3% of the vote in RCPs head to head tracker. Trump is losing because voters are tired of his shenanigans. At this point, his only path to victory is voters deciding they rather put up with four more years of Trump’s shenanigans because they have such a low view of Biden’s mental capacity.
2. As expected, the dire state of Bidens mental state was greatly over exaggerated. Sure he was bland, boring, and unmemorable but his entire campaign strategy is to make the election a referendum on Trump. Bland, boring, and unmemorable was a perfect performance. Maybe it was a mistake to lower the bar to the floor for Biden?
3. Like I posted about earlier, pretending Biden has dementia might have been a good internet meme but it was an awful campaign strategy. Post-debate crisis management began well before the debate even started. Drugs! He got the questions early! His earpiece! A better candidate might still be down right now but would have a legitimate shot to win. But Trump is a terrible candidate and because of that this is his only path to victory is undermining Biden’s mental state– either through mining gaffe clips or accusing him of taking drugs.
4. Trump’s answer on why he’s nominating Amy Coney Barret was truthful and blunt. Basically, “we can do it, so we will do it.” An open admission of power politics and I dig it.
5. Biden, right off the bat, tried to push the ACA as an issue right off the bad. The first topic was about the Supreme Court but they spent half the time talking about the ACA and healthcare.
6. Hunter Biden only came up once. I’m surprised it only came up once. I think that shows how little confidence the Trump campaign has in it.
7. “Will you shut up man” -Biden. This was the greatest shitshow of all time.
8. While Biden didn’t have a gaffe, he took a beating. Whenever Trump spoke over him, Biden clearly got shook but it also made Trump look like an ass.
9. When Biden isn’t interrupted he did really well. On the flip side, Trump is very good on his feet.
10. Biden talked about both his sons– Beau Biden’s military service and Hunter Biden’s drug problem. I think that moment might have won the debate for him. It was the only moment that might have moved voters.
11. At the end, I think Biden won. Yes, Trump looked better on his feet, but did it help him? It made him look like an ass– or as one focus group panelist said, a “crackhead”. 38% of watchers thought better of Biden after the debate and only 32% thought worse of him. On the flip side, Trump was -18 on the same question. What is the voter group that moved to Trump last night? I don’t think any did.