Almost all observers and analysts have been saying for several days now that Joe Biden’s performance will have to be carefully monitored tonight. It is argued that he must be energetic, control his issues, avoid getting too carried away while being firm and limit the number of his famous blunders.
While we are interested in the preparation and the attitude of the Democratic candidate, we forget to recall that the candidate Donald Trump won during this exercise in 2016. His approach was not conventional, it was not He was not shy about bringing up subjects that we generally prefer to slip under the rug and he was constantly in attack mode.
Exploiting the anger of several voters and their lack of confidence in the institutions, he scored many points throughout the course.
We realized then that he would not back down from any attack, that he did not care about the accuracy of the facts, and that he knew very well what buttons to press to make his opponents and a large portion of the electorate react. His media and animation experience have served him well.
Of course, the context is very different in 2020. Donald Trump must now defend a record. Attacking Washington’s political class and the Democratic Party is no longer enough. Struck by the pandemic and particularly divided, the country is also going through a worrying economic period in the short and medium term.
In 2016, almost all of the American and Canadian media addressed the eccentric billionaire’s performance in traditional ways. Limited by a conventional approach, we asserted that Hillary Clinton had the most convincing performance and that she had the job profile. She could be portrayed as the winner, but we found on election night that it was not the journalists, analysts or commentators who had the final say.
The president has no equal in attracting attention and the limelight. He will not spare his opponent. Well aware that he is lagging behind in the polls, especially in crucial states he cannot afford to lose, he will use his entire arsenal of punches to destabilize his opponent. He likes to roll in the mud and lead opponents there who dread getting dirty.
From what we’ve been reading and hearing for over a week, Joe Biden is preparing thoroughly. All this preparation will not be wasted, but its usefulness may be limited. Donald Trump never goes into details and his messages are simple, even cartoonish. Style matters more than substance.
The stakes may be already cast and it is possible that a simple satisfactory performance is enough to elect the former vice-president of Barack Obama. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to underestimate the outgoing president.
While many of his compatriots are tired of his circus, they still recognize him, rightly or wrongly, as managerial qualities that would help revive the economy. They do not care that he does not pay his fair share by avoiding taxes, preferring to pass the bill on to those he now claims to defend.