A Rocky Night for Joe Biden — But Did it Change Anything?
Author: Greg Valliere
October 23, 2020
IT WASN’T JOE BIDEN’S STRONGEST NIGHT: He looked pale and frail, he had difficulty finding the right words, and he gave Donald Trump a major new issue — phasing out reliance on oil. But public opinion seems locked in cement, and the debate probably didn’t move the needle significantly.
TRUMP MAY NEVER RECOVER from his handling of the pandemic, and Biden won’t let him forget it — it’s as simple as that. This issue dwarfs all others in the campaign, as Trump continues to hold packed rallies that put thousands of people at risk.
YET TRUMP STILL HAS A CHANCE: He has remarkable energy and may enjoy a momentum surge in the closing days. And Trump has a new issue to exploit — Biden’s gaffe last night, calling for phasing out of oil. Biden was headed to defeat in oil-rich Texas and Oklahoma, but this doesn’t help him in Pennsylvania.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE AGENDA: Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and China have become a deafening issue for Fox News, but most Americans don’t care (or can’t figure out what the fuss is all about). The real opportunity for Trump to exploit is Biden’s progressive agenda, but the prospect of significantly higher taxes barely came up last night.
SOME SNAP POLLS DURING THE NIGHT showed viewers thought Biden won, but we’ll stick with our assessment that it wasn’t a great night for the former vice president. “Biden didn’t project any vitality,” a friend texted last night.
SO NOW THE PRESSURE IS SQUARELY ON TRUMP to show discipline and stick to a simple closing argument on the economy. If Trump continues to veer off into twitter fights with Anthony Fauci or Hunter Biden, it will dissipate any bump he got last night.
BOTTOM LINE: Biden wins the national vote by 4 to 6 points, not the landslide that some Democrats are predicting, and he gets about 300 electoral votes, just 30 more than needed. Biden’s lead is not insurmountable in key battleground states, but voters may have made up their minds, and last night probably won’t change that.
THE LIKELIHOOF OF A RELATIVELY CLOSE FINISH has two significant implications: a Trump legal challenge, based on what he considers corrupt mail-in ballots, is still possible. And a relatively close finish could marginally help the GOP keep the Senate — so a Blue Wave, while probable, isn’t quite certain.
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