How NYT’s Trump Tax Bombshell Could Hurt Biden in Presidential Debate

NYT’s Trump tax report shouldn’t be Joe Biden’s focus during the presidential debate as he needs to motivate his supporters to vote.

Trump vs Biden, 2020

Most Americans have already made up their minds about who they will vote for in November. For Joe Biden to have any success during the presidential debates, he can't get bogged down in useless chatter over Trump's alleged tax avoidance. | Image: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

  • The presidential debate probably won’t convince voters to choose one candidate because most people have made up their minds.
  • Instead, it’s a chance to further motivate supporters to go out and vote.
  • Joe Biden’s voters are less committed, so he needs to deliver a transparent debate that focuses on issues that matter to them.

Tonight’s presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is at the top of many Americans’ minds.

That’s especially true after a bombshell New York Times article accused Trump of avoiding a decade’s worth of income tax. For a small but significant group of voters, the upcoming debate is little more than background noise.

The majority of Americans have already decided who they’re supporting. The deep political divide that runs through the country means that nothing—including tax avoidance—will change their minds. The debate will serve as motivation to vote. 

Presidential Debate Could Sway Swing State Voters

presidential debate, Trump taxes, Joe Biden
Voters in swing states have largely made up their minds–the debate will convince them to get out there and vote. | Source: KFF

A small percentage of voters, especially in swing states, could be swayed by the debate because they haven’t entirely made up their minds. Research by Kaiser shows that some voters in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina are still up for grabs.

These voters tend to lean towards Biden, but still question whether he’s a strong leader and too old to lead the country. They’ll want to see Biden deliver a sharp debate and prove he’s a capable leader. 

But therein lies the problem. Much of Biden’s campaign is focused on calling Trump out for his poor leadership. The Kaiser survey shows more than half of his supporters are casting a vote against Trump rather than for Biden.

For those engrossed in politics, Trump’s shortcomings are a powerful reason to head to the polls. But it may not be enough to inspire those who don’t know anything about Biden. These rare, undecided voters don’t pay much attention to political news, so Biden isn’t a strong character to them. 

The debate is his chance to reach them.

Trump Taxes Doesn’t Offer Swing Voters Clarity

For those who have been monitoring the election process, it might seem like the NYT’s reporting on Trump’s tax documents is a grenade that Biden can use to his advantage in the debate. But it could be just the opposite.

If Joe Biden’s task is to define himself as a strong leader with sharp mental acuity, badgering Trump over a report the president claims isn’t true won’t help him. Trump’s strategy in cases like this has been to deny and dismiss. It’s unlikely that he’ll engage in the subject at all. Watch the video below:

Instead, Biden needs to talk clearly and directly about the issues in a way that proves he’s not the “Sleepy Joe” the Trump campaign has made him out to be.

The Presidential Debate Needs to Inspire Biden Voters to Vote

The presidential debate is also an important chance for both candidates to inspire their supporters to get out and vote. For Trump, that’s a far easier task because his voting base is deeply committed. They’re excited to go out and vote for him.

On the other hand, Joe Biden’s strategy has been to vote Trump out rather than to vote Biden in. While the climate in America right now makes that a compelling argument, it’s also dangerous because it means people aren’t necessarily chomping at the bit to write Biden’s name down. Watch the video:

Many of Biden’s voters, especially the younger ones, were excited about his Democratic opponents Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Voting for Biden is a bit of an anticlimax for this group, so convincing them to vote at all is the real obstacle.

The nature of this election means the candidates are no longer trying to convince voters to vote for themselves over the other person. They’re merely trying to persuade voters to vote. From that angle, Trump is the clear winner as his support base is enthusiastic. 

Biden has the daunting task of convincing people that Trump is so bad, anyone is better. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

Last modified: September 29, 2020 3:56 PM
Laura has been working as financial journalist covering US markets for more than a decade. Her work can be found in a wide variety of publications including Yahoo Finance, InvestorPlace, Nasdaq and Benzinga. Contact her at [email protected], see her LinkedIn profile here.
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