It was even more toxic than expected: Donald Trump and Joe Biden delivered a violent exchange of blows in the TV duel. How the candidates were doing and what was important: the lightning analysis.

Five weeks before the US presidential election, Donald Trump and Joe Biden met for the first time in a television duel. The opponents fought a violent and personal argument in Cleveland, Ohio. They also exchanged verbal abuse.

The main findings in lightning analysis:

This is how the debate went

After a few minutes things got chaotic, mainly thanks to the president. Donald Trump quickly and extensively began to interrupt opponent Biden and presenter Chris Wallace. Wallace struggled to lead the debate. Only after less than an hour did he warn Trump more clearly to abide by the rules. Differences in content also became apparent in the debate, for example in economic and climate policy, but personal attacks and wild talk dominated. It didn’t take fifteen minutes until Joe Biden lost his temper for the first time: He called out to the president, “Shut up man?”

This is how Trump did

From the beginning his goal was to disrupt and interrupt. In fact, he occasionally confused both Biden and presenter Wallace. He shot himself into Biden’s character and person. Even when Biden spoke about his son Beau, who had died of cancer, Trump provoked him with questions about his other son Hunter, whom he accused of unfair business. Beforehand, Trump was expected to provoke Biden with questions about his son. But even political supporters later stated that Trump had overshot the mark. Consultant Chris Christie called the performance “too hot”.

Time and again Trump pushed Biden into the corner of left-wing Democrats and their plans to cut money from the police. Biden distanced himself again and again. “An avalanche of lies,” said the CNN fact-checker for Trump’s appearance.

This is how Biden acted

Joe Biden tried to defend himself against Trump’s maneuver with a dual strategy. But he always ran into limits. On the one hand, Biden smiled conspicuously and meaningfully several times when Trump made unfounded claims or attacked him directly. He wanted to make it clear that he does not want to stoop to Trump’s level. “I’m not here to point out his lies,” he said at the outset. “Everyone knows he’s a liar.”

At the same time, Biden repeatedly attacked the US president directly and violently. “He’s the racist,” he accused Trump. And: “He is Putin’s puppy.” Biden’s most obvious attack will be remembered: “You are the worst president America has ever had.” Biden tried to describe Trump substantively. But in the riot, he was only able to bring up a few substantial points. “He has no plan,” he said of Trump. Other than a few keywords, he couldn’t explain his. Big blunders and dropouts, which his advisers feared, did not happen to Biden.

The most important moment

Finally, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump and Biden two crucial questions: Do you want to tell your supporters to stay calm regardless of the election outcome? And don’t you want to declare yourself the winner early?

Observers fear that post-election demonstrations could turn violent – and that Trump could claim victory for himself on election night before counting votes by mail, which could again change things for Biden.

Biden answered the question succinctly with: Yes. Trump explicitly did not, on the contrary: he rekindled concerns about electoral fraud. He called on his followers to check the vote count. Militant supporters of Trump, some of whom already patrolling armed cities, should see this as their support.


Trump, who is clearly behind Biden in the polls, shouldn’t be able to make up for any ground with this wild appearance. Biden, on the other hand, clearly struggled to argue with the uncontrollable president. He got tangled up several times, which should cannibalize the other side. Even if both worked very differently and Trump more strongly ignored the rules, no one should feel like a clear winner.

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