The final presidential debate of 2020 was President Donald Trump’s least-watched of his political career. But not all was lost for his reelection chances, as he gained momentum in Pennsylvania.
The second of two presidential debates was certainly much more presidential and civilized than the first. But according to estimates from Nielsen ratings, approximately 63 million people tuned in for Trump vs. Joe Biden round two. That’s a substantial drop from the more than 73 million who did for the first face off in September.
Ratings for the second showdown were lower than all three of Trump’s 2016 debates with Hillary Clinton. Many Americans have already made up their minds, and mail-in voting is well underway in numerous states. Ahead of the second presidential debate, 47 million votes had already been cast.
The final debate had little bearing on the 2020 betting markets. Biden maintains his lead on PredictIt, his shares of winning on November 3 trading at 64 cents. Trump is a distant 41 cents back.
For Trump to win reelection, political pundits say he must win Florida, and likely Pennsylvania.
For me, Pennsylvania is the whole election,” said Paul Krishnamurty, an election expert for betting exchange Betfair. “Trump won’t win in Michigan or Wisconsin, so without Pennsylvania, he has no path to victory.”
Trump managed to win the Keystone State in 2016. It was the first time Pennsylvania voters went with a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, with George H.W. Bush.
One of Trump’s better moments during last week’s debate was when he asked Biden if he would close down the oil industry. The former Vice President answered, “I would transition from the oil industry.”
“The oil industry pollutes significantly. It has to be replaced over time,” Biden added.
Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania residents rely on fossil fuels and fracking to support their livelihoods. As a result of Biden’s statements, PredictIt’s market on who will win Pennsylvania saw a slight shift to Trump.
Prior to the debate, Biden led in Pennsylvania 68-36. Afterwards, those shares shifted to 63-40. Still a commanding lead for the Democrat, but it’s a change that keeps the Commonwealth in play.
UK bookmakers, which are permitted to take wagers on political outcomes — not the case in the US — said last week that they were receiving a late rush of action on the President winning reelection. Many shortened their 2020 odds on Trump, but after the debate, some of those lines have returned in Biden’s favor.
William Hill has shortened Biden from 8/15 (64.89 percent) to 4/9 (69.23 percent). Trump is long at 7/4 (36.36 percent).
Polls agree. The latest Real Clear Politics polling average has Biden ahead with an 8.1-point advantage. No poll over the past week has Trump within four points.