Donald Trump and Joe Biden took to the stage last night in Nashville, TN for the last debate of the 2020 presidential campaign. Immediately after, the pundits were tripping over themselves to figure out who had the best quips, the most substance and who “won”. But they missed the biggest takeaway.
The media consensus is that Biden, the front runner, maintained his lead by ‘not screwing up’, while Trump, the bullying brawler who imploded in the first debate, although more disciplined and ‘normal’ this time out, lacked energy and a winning closing argument for another four years.
But debates are about convincing voters. To be sure, the majority of minds have been made up for months, maybe longer. And we’re already witnessing early voting in historic numbers. So this race has come down to the ‘undecideds’…that curious bunch who still somehow can’t decide between a lying, dangerous sociopath and a pretty decent guy.
CNN held a focus group of eleven North Carolina voters who’ve yet to make up their minds. When the debate was over, nine gave the win to Biden. Two said it was a draw. No one said Trump was the victor. But even more devastating for Trump is this: seven of the eleven — including two who voted for him in 2016 — said they’re now ready to vote and will be voting for Biden. The remaining four are still undecided. Think about that for a second: this debate flipped two-thirds of the undecideds to Biden. In North Carolina. North Carolina!
Play this scenario out across the country. If Biden in the homestretch can continue to convince an overwhelming majority of undecideds to vote for him…especially in red states like North Carolina…we’re likely looking at one of the biggest landslide defeats in American history.
What could change this doomsday scenario for Trump in the next 10 days? With a deadly virus that’s raging out of control and an already-challenged economy that’s inextricably tied to it, coupled with an erratic, unfocused, undisciplined, dishonest, self-consumed president, the answer is very little.