Holy cow.

So the first presidential debate happened, and it’s been universally condemned. It’s not hard to imagine it going down in history as a historic blunder, one taught in classes as what not to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if we look back in 30 days, in the last few days of 2020, and think this was the moment he decisively lost the presidency.

But I don’t want to overstate it. Maybe Americans loved watching Trump’s aggressive and mean style. Maybe they appreciate heckling and bickering. Maybe they think it’s cool that he told the Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by,” or at very least thought it was a verbal flub. Maybe we’ll all forget everything tomorrow, but I don’t think so. I think Trump needed to appear reasonable and discuss substantive ideas, and he failed on both fronts.

Yesterday, before the debate, I thought there were three options. Trump winning because Biden failed, Biden winning by looking reasonable, or a tie. It looks like Biden won, but I don’t think anyone expected Trump was going to lash out quite as bad as he did.

The race is continuing to evolve predictably. They’re both old, they’re both white, and they’re both men. But one thrives on chaos and the other seems to want to turn the clock back to a quieter, more respectful time. In 2016, American voters were ready to shake things up. Now the polling shows they want things to settle down. That benefits Biden, hugely.

Note to myself in 90 days: if Biden decisively loses, what caused it? Did Biden die? Was there a bombshell revelation that’s so awful that it swings Pennsylvania a whole 7% because people decide Trump suddenly isn’t as bad as they thought? What causes it? What changes things decisively? So far it’s hard to see.

I analyze the Trump presidency, then share the essays 90 days later, like a time capsule.