Your Daily Polling Update for Wednesday, September 30, 2020
by Ron Faucheux
How do you analyze an ax fight?
Last night’s debate was a chaotic mess, a milestone that will mark the collapse of civility in American politics. Applying the normal, staid tools of analysis won’t do it justice.
Nevertheless, I will try.
President Trump’s rambunctiousness was the story of the evening, and the chaos that ensued was mostly on his back. Moderator Chris Wallace lost control at the beginning and that made it worse. Joe Biden’s performance was, as usual, uneven, but his deportment kept him in the game.
Both candidates missed opportunities. Biden failed to reassure centrist voters on law enforcement issues or to persuasively answer attacks on his son’s business dealings––a sore subject for any parent. Trump failed to take a clear stand against white supremacist groups––a huge mistake. He also neglected to reassure voters about his handling of the pandemic and never got around to framing a coherent re-election message based on the economy.
Biden’s strongest issue was the coronavirus. Trump’s strongest issue was law and order. Biden tried to draw a contrast on healthcare, but the night’s commotion made it difficult for him to do so. Trump tried to portray Biden as a captive of the radical left, but that mostly got lost in the jumble.
Haley Barbour used to say, “In politics, the main thing is the main thing.” The main thing last night was that Biden walked into the debate ahead in the polls and Trump needed to change the election’s dynamic to his favor. Creating more chaos was not the way to do it. It’s unlikely either candidate won over undecided voters, and for the candidate running behind, that’s a loss.
We will resume coverage of polls tomorrow.
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Publication schedule: Lunchtime Politics publishes daily, Monday thru Friday, between now and the Nov. 3 election. Thanks to all our readers and best of health, Ron