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Trump debate performance little help for reelection bid

Has fallen further behind Biden

City News Service | 10/16/2020, midnight

With 18 days left until election day, President Trump has not recovered from the self-inflicted wounds of his first debate with Joe Biden and, instead, has sunk farther behind his challenger, a new USC Dornsife poll shows.

The latest data show the unusual extent to which the Sept. 29 debate continues to shape the campaign’s final stretch, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The encounter in Cleveland, dominated by Trump’s repeated interruptions and his cryptic statement that seemingly welcomed a right-wing extremist group, appears to be the exception to the usual rule that the impact of debates fades quickly, according to The Times.

The damage the debate did to Trump’s standing has persisted through his bout with COVID-19, leaving him with a deep deficit and little time to recover. Before the September debate, voters had relatively tepid expectations for how either candidate would do. Trump significantly underperformed those, The Times reported.

On a 0-to-100 scale, Trump’s performance in the debate came in 18 points below what voters had expected, a comparison of those surveyed before and since the debate shows. Independents who lean toward the GOP—a key bloc of potential swing voters—reported the most disappointment. Their rating of Trump’s performance came in 24 points below their pre-debate expectations, the poll found.

Biden’ performance was reportedly closer to expectations.

Trump also lost ground, and Biden gained, on the question of which candidate is more mentally fit for the presidency. The former vice president’s advantage on that question grew by 7 points.