In Tuesday’s debate, Trump made several efforts to push Biden to make choices between policies preferred by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and policies preferred by the center-left. Biden was decisive in his answers, for the most part, and didn’t try to split the difference to avoid irritating one wing or the other of the Democratic coalition.
In a normal debate, this might have caused some trouble for Biden, who needs to reassure the supporters he needs from the center of the political spectrum and simultaneously energize the supporters he needs from the leftward end. However, I think the event, whatever it was, probably boosted Biden across the spectrum. Many people whose political orientation is progressive don’t ordinarily see much–or any–unfiltered Trump.
They see mocking memes, idiot quotes, and stories about outrageous things he’s said or done, but they don’t get to experience Trump in full. Last night, many people who never watch Fox got a full dose of Trump, and suddenly realized that he’s not just the butt of their friend’s jokes, he’s a uniquely dangerous person who could do untold damage in the next four years.
In recent days, Bernie Sanders and AOC have set aside their usual talking points about corporate greed and democratic socialism in favor of a direct plea to get out and vote. Trump’s performance last night might serve to reinforce that message out on the left end, and shift some progressive voters away from voting Green or not voting at all.