Statistically, past debates do not move the needle in Presidential Elections. The third and final debate occurred less than 24 hours ago, and every news outlet and political blog has anointed the winner.
Without a standard for scoring a debate, determining victory becomes subjective. From my perspective, the final debate should focus on undecided voters. Unlike previous elections, the 2020 Presidential race has the least number of undecided voters, approximately five percent. The composition of this group appears to be those who do not like either candidate, debating whether to vote at all, determining if Jo Jorgensen is a viable option, and are torn by character or policy.
For former Vice President Biden and President Trump, there is little they could do to lose support from those already in their corner. For those supporters, the President trumpeting the 2016 message of hard drives, emails, and locking someone up, substitute Hunter for Hillary, and that was the knockout punch. For the Biden corner, that he needed to remain calm amid Trump’s constant interruptions and baiting, maintain a clear articulate policy message, and he is the winner.
Both corners got their wishes and claimed their man was the winner at the end of the match.
This debate was the best of the two and a half debates. By his standards, President Trump did an excellent job of just letting the former Vice President talk. Trump also did a decent job of laying out some of his views on policy. His standout moment was when he cornered Biden and kept jabbing at what have you done for 47 years; you were just the Vice President; why did you not do any of the things you are talking about. While the former Vice President also did an excellent job of laying out a vision, talking about policy, looking at the American people, and stating how he would change the current federal response to COVID-19.
What were the undecided looking for? First, I think they were looking at Trump and thinking, “Are you going to talk policy? Are you going to give us hope regarding our two top concerns, COVID and the economy? Are you going to give me a reason to hold my nose and vote for you?”
The Undecided for Biden asked themselves, “Can I justify my vote for you because of Trump’s character flaws? Does your character outweigh my policy differences?”
At the end of the night, I give this a split decision and the win to President Trump. He did not convert all 5%, but I think he moved a few to his corner. However, these are a fickle group. With 11 days left, they are more than likely going to vote on election day. Plenty of time exists for President Trump to prove to them why there were undecided at the time of the debate.