Let’s say you had to choose between “decency” versus the “obnoxious arsehole” as your tribal leader? Most of us would choose the decency candidate every time over the arsehole.
But how about a “decent but weak” candidate versus the “strong but an arsehole” leader?
Well, that’s a bit more complicated. Strong is good. We want a strong leader, ruthless when required, to defend us in a tough and scary world. We can live with then being an arsehole if they protect us and our families.
A decent but weak leader might be the nicer one, maybe the one you would rather have a drink with, but are they going to be able to defend your tribe? If they are weak, probably not. And that is important in a tough world filled with dangerous competitors.
And finally, how about the strong versus weak candidate? Well, that’s a no-brainer, you will always go for the strong leader.
Within the context of the US elections, the Democratic Party and their allies in the corporate media are promoting the first narrative. Trump is the obnoxious arsehole and Biden is the nice, decent candidate who can restore honour to the United States.
The Republicans are promoting the “strong versus weak” narrative, with Biden the weak, liberal leader who isn’t up to the job of being Commander in Chief.
My sense is that the voters, by the end of these round of debates, in particular the undecided voters, will see the middle narrative; a weak but decent Biden versus a strong President Trump who is also an obnoxious arsehole.
The question then becomes who will the American electorate vote for on election day and which factor wins, decency over strength in the privacy of the ballot box.
Indeed, Tom wrote that Trump couldn’t have performed worse last night and Scott Adams has withdrawn his support (temporarily at least) for Trump as a consequence of that debate.
Having said that, both also agree that Biden probably performed the best he can, given his clear cognitive decline over the last year.
Assuming that the two further debates happen, the likely trajectory is that, with expectations reshuffled, Trump will perform better, or be seen to have been versus the 1st debate and Biden will perform worse. That’s not a certainty but it is certainly likely.
After all, historians note that incumbent presidents normally screw-up their first debate. Obama famously performed badly against Mitt Romney in 2012 but went on to win that election comfortably. A poor 1st debate is not necessarily the end of the world for a sitting president. It’s true that Trump is behind in the polls and needed a better performance last night, which is why I call it a narrow Biden win.
However, I also agree with those who say that Trump came across as the more dominant candidate in the debate in comparison to Biden. If President Trump is to win this election, he needs to improve his game, tone down the aggression and ruthlessly expose Joe Biden as a weak candidate who isn’t up for the job.
If he can do that, he will most likely win the election.
Whilst the debate was definitely a setback for the president, I don’t think its necessarily game over. I know some will disagree with me on that one. If you do, check out the comments from the CNN focus group of undecided voters after that debate. The majority who spoke were pro-Trump*. Even I was surprised by that.
In 2016, I remember when the “grab them by a pussy” video came out shortly before the election (and just before the 2nd debate). It caused an uproar. Trump polling dived, the media overwhelmingly concluded his campaign was finished and most political experts agreed. Only a few of us oddballs still thought he could win, myself on this blog, John Greer and Scott Adams among others.
The lesson from that is be careful to write-off the Donald. He might be down but it is foolhardy to assume he is also out.
*Note that the majority of polls suggest that Biden was seen by the electorate as the winner of the debate in case you assume, I am saying that Trump won that debate among undecided voters. My point being that the Democratic/media narrative isn’t necessarily what undecided voters are seeing.