Peggy Noonan isn't counting President Trump out, and she points to a Gallup result showing that 56% of Americans say they're personally better off than they were four years ago. Factors like that could yet lift Trump to re-election, she writes in the Wall Street Journal. But really, "no one knows." As for Biden, she argues that his ideal outcome isn't what you might think. "If Mr. Biden is an extremely lucky man he will win the presidency and his party will hold the House and lose the Senate." That would give him a "handy excuse" to keep the Democrats' progressive wing in check and would be better for his "natural moderation." Besides, a more moderate president would be "more popular in a country whose nerves are shot." More analysis as the election enters the home stretch:
- Debate's impact: The final debate is in the books, and it was a relative sane affair. Which means, writes John F. Harris at Politico, that its impact will likely be minimal. "No disaster. No national embarrassment with a debate that hurtled off the rails. And likely no big alterations in a race that has stayed basically stable even through 2020's twin traumas of pandemic and racial unrest and will finally end just 11 days from now."
- Unless: Joe Biden may have given President Trump some ammunition in the debate when the president asked him, "Would you close down the oil industry?" Biden responded, "Yes, I would transition." The potential problem for Biden is that he "initially answered in the affirmative when asked if he would close the oil industry, even if he tried to clarify it later and stress that none of his changes would happen right away," writes Amber Phillips in the Washington Post. Expect Trump to exploit that before Nov. 3, particularly in Pennsylvania and Texas. Phillips notes, however, that "Americans' anxieties about climate change are high," which might mute the effect Trump wants.
- Fallout: At least two Democratic House candidates—in New Mexico and Oklahoma—already have distanced themselves from Biden's answer on oil. And Politico notes that conservatives were calling attention to the remarks after the debate. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former Energy Secretary (and former Texas governor) Rick Perry were among those those saying Biden's goal would wipe out millions of jobs.
- Also at stake: Republican pollster Frank Luntz doesn't mince words when it comes to his own profession: "If they get it wrong a second time and Trump does win, I think it's going to be very much the end of public polling in a political situation,” he says, per Mediaite.
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