The first debate was so chaotic that it was characterized as a “democratic catastrophe”. The debate between US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday night, the last before the November 3 election, was a far more civilized affair.
For Donald Trump, the debate was a great success, according to US expert Hilmar Mjelde, a researcher at the Norce Research Center.
– Trump won this debate. It was perhaps his best debate ever, says Mjelde to Dagbladet.
– The bite was better
But scholars argue about that. And many others.
Other experts Dagbladet has interviewed, believes Biden took a narrow victory, including Åshild Mathisen, PR expert and senior adviser in Try Råd, and Sigrid Gårdsvoll, US commentator for AmerikanskPolitikk.no.
They were both guests during Dagbladet’s debate broadcast last night.
– Both sides will say that their husband won. This was such a debate. We who look at it from the outside might say that Joe Biden was better. But I think all Republicans who see this think that “now delivered Trump.” Then it is difficult to say what voters who have not made up their minds will get, says Gårdsvoll.
Biden also emerged victorious from the debate, according to a CNN poll conducted last night. 53 percent of viewers believe that Biden won, while 39 percent name Trump the winner.
– Controlled and scored
So what was it about Trump’s performance during the debate that makes Mjelde think it was superior to Biden’s efforts?
– Trump was free, controlled and punctuated. Biden did not have punctuated responses, says Mjelde, and adds:
– His point that Biden is a professional politician, while Trump is a man of action, is a very effective point. It was effective in 2016, and Trump saved it this year for the final debate. This is a slightly unreasonable point, because Biden has not been president before, but it appeals to the many dissatisfied voters that Trump must mobilize more of.
Appealing to those voters who are not already Trump-saved will be the president’s biggest challenge before election day on November 3.
This is what Trump must do
Natta’s debate may have put Trump in a better light also outside his own congregation, Mjelde believes.
“Trump must get traditional Republicans to vote for his party, and he must mobilize the white working class in the tipping states to an even greater extent than in 2016. The night’s debate helped in that way, albeit marginally,” says Mjelde.
The US expert adds:
– Traditional Republican voters who dislike Trump’s style, but like his policies, were probably reassured. In a two-party system, such as the American one, voting for the other party is not a real option for many. When Trump acts more civilized, he makes it easier for Republicans in doubt to vote rather than stay at home, Mjelde says.
– Do not decide a choice
And that is what Trump needs, who for a long time has been well behind Biden in the polls. In an average of recent polls, Biden is anywhere from six to ten percentage points ahead of Trump.
Nevertheless, Mjelde is clear in his assessment of the significance of a presidential debate:
– The debates do not decide a choice. Trump cannot escape the fact that he has neglected pandemic management. The pandemic is issue number one in this election, and if Trump loses, that is the reason, says Mjelde.
And that is precisely why Biden did not have to do the big thing tonight, he thinks.
– The bite did not have to be spectacular. He has put to death the doubts about his age and mental state. That in itself is important. So Biden still has the upper hand in this race, and tonight’s debate does not change that, says the researcher.