Trump claimed victory, dismantling Biden’s arguments, base


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Jacob Patterson

We typically think of debates as events where candidates hash out the ideas of the day and battle for the minds of Americans. More times than not the issues which make or break candidates in debates have little if nothing to do with policy. In 1984, the issue was “Does Reagan have it mentally to be re-elected President?”  In 1992, George Bush looked at his watch like he didn’t have time to be there and his out-of-touch-ness cost him the race with Clinton. In 2016, Donald Trump met the bar of “Is this guy capable of doing the job?” The answer to this question was what voters needed to know. In 2020, the question is “Can Biden overcome voters’ concerns about his cognitive decline?” With that in mind, President Trump accomplished three things during the first presidential debate:

  1. Destroyed Biden’s “Decency” argument.
  2. Made Biden look incapable of doing the job.
  3. Made Biden alienate his already unenthused base.

One of Biden’s key talking points is that he’s the more decent, “presidential” candidate. A lot of voters favor Biden as they feel Trump doesn’t act “presidential.” But throughout the debate, Biden got into the mud and destroyed months of work of trying to make himself the “presidential” guy. 

Next, Trump made Biden’s reduced mental capacity real to people. Biden isn’t what he once was, and Trump showed people that when you put Joe under pressure and he gets stressed, he fails consistently. Chris Wallace will not be able to bail Joe out when he’s dealing with Xi and Putin.

Finally, Trump managed to get Biden to alienate his base. Democrats who are 35 years and younger don’t see Biden as someone who represents them, which is why he is facing record low enthusiasm from that demographic. Medicare For All, the defunding of the police and the Green New Deal are the biggest policy drivers in young liberals and Trump got Biden to disavow all three of them. However, people opposed to these policies know that Biden is a Trojan horse for them and saying you don’t support the most popular issues that your base cares about isn’t a winning strategy.

For these reasons, as well as Trump reminding voters that he’s done more in 47 months than Biden has done in 47 years, Trump emerged the winner in this debate.