Donald Trump vs Joe Biden: Who won the first Presidential debate?

30 September 2020, 07:50 | Updated: 30 September 2020, 10:54

Joe Biden won the debate, pollsters have suggested
Joe Biden won the debate, pollsters have suggested. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Joe Biden and Donald Trump have traded blows in the first debate of the Presidential election, but which one came out on top?

So far, Biden has won by a hair's breadth on almost every organisation who asked their viewers.

A poll run by CBS and YouGov placed Biden just ahead - but still short of a majority - at 48 per cent, with Trump tailing him closely behind with 41 per cent.

The debate itself, although criticised as a slinging match between the two men, has also seemingly done it's job in helping alter the opinions of those who watched.

Of those asked, 38 per cent said the debate made them think better of Biden compared to 24 per cent who said the same of Trump.

When asked if it made them think worse of the candidate, 42 per cent said they came away thinking less of Trump compared to 32 per cent who said the same of Biden.

Donald Trump went up against Joe Biden in a Presidential Debate
Donald Trump went up against Joe Biden in a Presidential Debate. Picture: PA

CNN pinned Biden as a clear winner, with 60 per cent of people they asked saying they thought he would win, compared with just 28 per cent saying the same for Trump.

Fox News - a favourite network of the President - has yet to release their poll results.

But despite the results, it's worth noting that polls run by the same organisations have been wrong about who would win the Presidency in years gone by.

Read more: 'Will you shut up man?' - Trump and Biden get personal in first debate

During the 2016 election, CBS predicted Donald Trump lost his presidential debates against Hillary Clinton 49 per cent to 39 per cent.

A CNN instant poll of the first debate between Trump and Clinton also had Clinton at 62 per cent compared to 27 per cent for Trump.

But it is worth considering that the true winner is not just marked on the polls, but what was said by both candidates which may convince a voter that they are the right man for the job.

Joe Biden told Trump to "shut up" at one point
Joe Biden told Trump to "shut up" at one point. Picture: PA

The debate saw the two politicians used each others history in office to attack the other - with Biden swiping at Trump's record on coronavirus and Trump returning fire on Biden's personal life on family.

The event, held in Cleveland, Ohio, began in a civil manner, with the president striding deliberately to his lectern and Mr Biden nodding to his opponent and asking, "How you doing, man?"

Read more: 'Stand back and stand by': Donald Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists

But Mr Trump is no stranger to going on the offensive, with his aggressive manner leaving his Democratic opponent fighting to complete a sentence as he attacked in sometimes intensely personal ways.

"There's nothing smart about you. Forty seven years you've done nothing," Mr Trump said, referring to his opponent's time in Washington.

While Mr Trump played into his reputation as a bully, it may have been effective at breaking up the worst of his opponent's attacks - simply by talking over them.

Trump aides believed before the debate that Mr Biden would be unable to withstand the withering offensive on style and substance from Mr Trump, but the former vice president came with a few retorts of his own, calling Mr Trump a "clown" and mocking his style by asking, "Will you shut up, man?"

That was after the president badgered him over his refusal to comment on whether he would try to expand the Supreme Court in retaliation if Mr Trump's high court pick, Amy Coney Barrett, was confirmed to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Mr Trump struggled to define his ideas for replacing the Affordable Care Act on health care in the debate's early moments and defended his nomination of Ms Barrett, declaring: "I was not elected for three years, I'm elected for four years".

"We won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate. We have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee, respected by all," he added.

Mr Biden called his opponent "the worst president America has ever had", while Mr Trump recycled allegations about Hunter Biden's international business practices.

Mr Biden called the claims against his son "discredited" and fired back: "I mean, his family we can talk about all night."

But Mr Biden sidestepped any of the specifics of the president's international business dealings and instead turned straight to the camera.

He said: "This is not about my family or his family. This is about your family."

Both candidates appealed to the families of voters watching at home as they addressed the pandemic.

"It is what it is because you are who you are," Mr Biden told the president, referring to Mr Trump's months of downplaying Covid-19 while he said privately he understood how deadly it is.

Mr Trump replied that the death toll would have been worse if his opponent were president, adding that the economy would also have suffered more.

The president said "there will be a vaccine very soon", while Mr Biden fell back on his bottom line: "A lot of people died, and a lot more are going to unless he gets a lot smarter."

Mr Trump again refused to say when he will finally make his personal taxes public as he has long promised, which followed a report in The New York Times suggesting he paid only 750 dollars (about £583) in personal income taxes annually in recent years.

Mr Biden quickly used that as a point of attack, saying Mr Trump "does take advantage of the tax code" and "pays less tax than a school teacher".

Mr Trump shrugged off the attack, saying that all business leaders do the same "unless they are stupid".

Meanwhile, the president danced around a question from Mr Wallace about whether he was willing to condemn white supremacists and military groups.

He said: "Proud Boys - Stand back, stand by, but I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not right-wing problem ... This is a left wing problem."

Antifa followers have appeared at anti-racism protests, but there has been little evidence behind Republican claims that Antifa members are to blame for the violence at such protests.

The debate ended with a question from the moderator, who asked both candidates if they will "urge your supporters to stay calm during this period, not to engage in civil unrest and will you not declare victory until the election has been independently verified?"

Mr Trump said he will tell his supporters "to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that's what has to happen. I'm urging them to do it".

Mr Biden replied: "Once the ballots are all counted, that'll be the end of it. If it's me, that's fine. If it's not me, I'll support it."