Marathon Strategies

Who won the first presidential debate? Marathon’s Liz Benjamin weighs in.

Following the Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Managing Director Liz Benjamin provided a section-by-section breakdown of the 90-minute showdown for the New York Post. As one of the Post’s election night analysts, it was noted that Benjamin, “is no stranger to rough-and-tumble politics,” and has covered previous debates as a reporter, a columnist, and the former longtime anchor of “Capital Tonight.”    
Here is a summary of Liz’s debate analysis:  

The Trump and Biden records Biden: C / Trump: C 

  • Trump seeks to cast Biden as a career politician, while defending his own record on the economy and deflecting on the COVID crisis. Biden uses the old “are you better off now” standard, gets hot under the collar when Trump attacks his son, but — to his credit — doesn’t lose it completely. Neither comes out the clear victor here.  

The Supreme Court | Trump: A- / Biden: C 

  • Trump comes out swinging in this opening question and unapologetically employs the “to the victor goes the spoils” argument. Biden off to a weak start, though he pivots to protecting the Affordable Care Act — a significant Democratic touchstone.  

COVID-19 | Biden: A- / Trump D 

  • Benjamin: Trump is on the defensive and falls back on blaming China, loses points by criticizing Biden for wearing a mask while his own family members sit in the audience wearing masks. Biden, who has no record to defend here, scores some direct hits, appeals to families who have lost loved ones to COVID.  

The economy | Trump: C- / Biden C-  

  • Benjamin: Trump leans into sending federal troops into cities roiled by racial unrest and protests, scores some points with the right by accusing Biden of being anti-cop and too cowed by the left, but refuses to outright denounce white supremacists. Biden tries to walk a delicate line by denouncing violence AND racism, but comes out wishy-washy on both. Neither was terribly strong here.  

The integrity of the election | Trump: D / Biden: B+ 

  • Benjamin: Biden takes the high road and promises to accept the outcome of the election, while urging Americans to vote and promising to call for calm as ballots are counted — a strong moment for him. Trump again raises questions about the veracity of the results, makes unfounded allegations of widespread fraud and seeks to undermine the very foundation of small-d democracy.  

Read the full coverage from The Post’s panel of election experts here.