Five Takeaways From Last Night
Author: Greg Valliere
August 21, 2020
JOE BIDEN DELIVERED AN OUTSTANDING SPEECH last night — even commentators on Fox News praised it — which leads us to the following five takeaways:
1. So Much for Biden Being Senile: President Trump has declared for months that Biden’s mental acuity is failing, but Trump actually did Biden a favor by setting the bar so low last night. Biden only had to be good, with no gaffes, but he was far better than good. Granted, he read from a teleprompter, but the nickname “Sleepy Joe” didn’t fit last night.
2. The horse race: Biden began the night as the favorite, and he ended the night as the favorite. His polls in some battleground states have narrowed, but he still
has the slightly easier path to 270 electoral votes.
Trump can’t seem to get untracked; he had a particularly bad day yesterday, highlighted by Steve Bannon’s arrest, still another court ruling that Trump has to release his taxes, and disappointing jobless data. And Trump’s polls on handling the virus are still dismal, his greatest albatross of all.
3. The Democrats are unified — for now: Biden hit the right notes for the progressive wing, but we think the left will become disenchanted after Nov. 3 –whether he wins or not. For now the only objective is to defeat Trump, and the party seems far more unified on that goal than in 2016.
4. Two Glaring Omissions: About 16% of Americans are Hispanic, but they were virtually invisible last night. Have the Democrats forgotten that they will need a strong Hispanic turnout in states like Florida?
Second, with urban unrest spiking in Portland, Chicago and many other cities, there was no mention of gun violence and riots, compounded by calls to cut funding for police. The streets aren’t safe — and the Democrats have to address that.
5. What’s next? The GOP will have a tough act to follow at their virtual convention next week, then the next big event will be the first debate, on Sept. 29. We won’t be comfortable making a final call until early October; the polls probably will tighten further.
We still think moderates could waver because Democrats have veered sharply to the left, with big new tax hikes on individuals, corporations, estates, capital gains, etc. Trump has an opening if he can stay on message and contrast the two agendas.
BOTTOM LINE: All sorts of wild cards loom — the post office, hurricanes, gaffes from both candidates, a stimulus bill, the new Bob Woodward book, scandals real and imagined, perhaps hyped by foreign adversaries. But after last night there’s little doubt about one crucial wild card: Joe Biden can still pack a punch.
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