Ninety minutes is a lifetime in politics these days – and Wednesday’s reality TV show let us know that it was 90 minutes of our lifetimes we will never get back. A horrible, disastrous, useless session that left viewers utterly disappointed – the worst debate in modern American history.
President Donald Trump hates being challenged, and he gamed this debate to occupy the platform and bully former vice-president Joe Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace, to recreate his favourite playing field: where he owns the oxygen and sucks it out of the room. He loved all those precious minutes where he could soar unfettered because, in the words of an Australian prime minister he does not know – “I’m going to do you slowly, mate” – Trump lashed Biden for being a Trojan horse for socialism, anarchy, crime and much, much worse.
Going into this first debate, the polls and the fundamentals underpinning Biden’s campaign were steady. Nationally, he is up by seven to 10 points against Trump, and is constantly registering more than 50 per cent of voters polled – a significant benchmark. He is leading in every crucial swing state, and competitive even in Republican redoubts Iowa, Georgia and Ohio. Women voters are for Biden over Trump 65-35 – up 15 points over Hillary Clinton’s margin.
Trump’s approval is at 43 per cent. No president has won re-election while under 50 per cent – a benchmark Trump never reached in his term. He is carrying white voters 52-46, but in 2016, he won them by 16 points.