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Predictions for the First Trump-Biden Debate

Predictions for the First Trump-Biden Debate

With the first Presidential debate only hours away I wanted to share some predictions about how both Trump and Biden will fare, as well as what each candidate needs to do to take the first debate. 

Full disclosure — I think most of these debates amount to little more than political theatre, as they seem to do little to change the minds of the voting public. But since they will be undoubtedly viewed by millions whether I believe they’re consequential or not, I thought I’d throw out a few thoughts anyway. 

Debate Strategy

While many in the media say that Biden has the advantage going in, I tend to think otherwise. Trump has been on the attack for the better part of his administration, while Biden has looked extremely weak and confused over the past year. The fact that some people feel that Biden simply getting through the debate without losing an eye could be considered a victory is telling. Biden does have years of experience on his side, but nobody can properly prepare for the chaos that is a debate against Donald Trump. I also look at this like a heavyweight title fight; in order to take out the champ, you REALLY have to do some damage. 

Trump will talk about how well he’s done as POTUS, specifically pointing to the economy while tossing in some personal jabs in an attempt to throw Biden off his game. This is what we’ve come to expect with Trump and he will likely succeed here. 

Biden needs to win people over more than Trump does. The only way I see that happening is with Biden being able to rip off hard-hitting, precise points and quick comebacks. Finger-pointing and playing the blame game won’t cut it. I don’t see Biden bringing any new facts or arguments to the table.

Advantage: Trump

COVID-19

Expect both Biden and Trump will come out swinging. Trump will say that he did a tremendous job keeping the virus at bay while simultaneously pointing fingers at blue states for shipping COVID-positive patients back to nursing homes. Trump will say he shut down the borders in plenty of time and there’s a 25% chance he’ll call it the “Chinese virus”. 

Biden will say that he would have done things differently without actually getting specific. He’ll say Trump is responsible for 200,000 deaths and a Biden-Harris administration will always put the health and well-being of Americans first.

While it’s safe to assume that no POTUS would have been able to keep the deaths under 100k given the severity of mistakes made at the state level, there is room here for Biden here and if he can add some value… maybe even make a suggestion as to how he would handle things better, he’ll win some points. 

Advantage: Biden

BLM/Police Reform/Race

Not a good year for race relations in the US, and quite frankly neither candidate has been very impressive. Trump hasn’t exactly been a calming presence in the face of a number of high-profile incidents involving police and African-Americans:

That being said, Biden seems to be routinely overplaying his hand when it comes to his relative popularity with black voters while offering little else in terms of possible solutions. There’s also this now-notorious cringe-take: 

This is an extremely complicated issue with far too many paying attention to the wrong elements on both sides of the aisle. We do know that the status quo probably won’t cut it going forward. 

Trump will continue to show his support for “the tremendous police officers across the country” and, if asked, will probably say that the system is mostly working out as intended. I don’t see any concessions coming from Trump at all during the debate but especially so with this topic.

Biden will say that major changes are needed, but he won’t throw the police under the bus. If he makes race his number one issue, he’ll lose this one. But if he can speak to actual reform that could potentially be good for everyone, he can win over the middle — albeit at the expense of the far-left.

Advantage: Biden

The Economy

The past couple of years have shown us some remarkable highs and horrendous lows. Did Trump benefit early on from some of the moves made by the Obama administration? Absolutely. Did he do anything at all to add to the growing economy? Absolutely. The economy matters and the markets matter. Trump will speak to his greatness striking deals with other countries and with business owners throughout the country as the main reason the economy was in tremendous shape before COVID closures changed everything. He will say that his tax cuts benefitted the middle class with higher wages and that he plans to do more of the same. He will absolutely talk about record low Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indigenous, physically-challenged and left-handed folks’ unemployment numbers and Trump will blame COVID for everything that’s happened since March. Expect some major bragging here.

Biden will speak to the economy only doing so well pre-COVID thanks to him and Obama. He will talk about action plans to get the economy back on its feet while keeping Americans safe from COVID. Biden doesn’t currently offer much in the way of actual long-term plans for the economy and it’ll be hard for him to articulate his plans precisely on stage in any sort of way that will make people feel confident. Most people think that this is the one area Trump can dominate.

Advantage: Trump

So that’s it for my debate 1 predictions. I don’t expect a massacre either way, but the door is certainly open for both Trump and Biden to win over some of these undecided voters we keep hearing so much about. I do expect Trump to eke out a small victory but if Biden can stay focused and avoid getting rattled he’ll be able to gain some momentum going into Round 2.