A bullying president at an ugly debate

I believe in the phenomenon of shy Trump voters, people who fear, rightly, that they’ll be looked down on if they say they’re for him, their social or professional standing damaged. But if the polls are roughly right there wouldn’t be nearly enough to make a difference.

The horse race is fun, and good for ratings. Mr. Biden has always been a poor national candidate. And Mr. Trump has some dark magic, some voodoo no one understands, he’ll pull something out of the hat. But he’s not magic, it’s not voodoo; he’s a clever man who capitalized four years ago on a perfect historical storm. He is losing. Joe Biden is winning. And there’s no particular reason to think it will be close.

What did the debate do to this picture?

The president depressed everybody, even his own supporters, by acting like a bullying nut. He left people anguished about the future of the country. By the time it was over people were thinking, deep down: The incumbent is an incompetent who’s out of his mind, and the challenger is a befuddled man who struggles to carry a public thought to its conclusion, and who can’t tell you what he’ll do in part because he doesn’t want to and in part because he doesn’t really know.