Americans witnessed a chaotic presidential debate last night, punctuated by interruptions, insults and incivility. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden rarely engaged in a substantive discussion over issues, with the moderator struggling to maintain control.

We invited three scholars to watch the debate. In dissecting the back-and-forth over Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, University of Oregon political scientist Alison Gash summed up the overall tenor of the evening and its lack of depth:

“The debate did little to resolve questions about the future of the court – other than to shore up Supreme Court nominations as political bombs with volatile consequences,” she wrote.

Also today:

Emily Costello

Deputy Editor

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden at the first debate of the presidential campaign. AP/Julio Cortez and AP/Patrick Semansky

Trump and Biden clash in chaotic debate – experts react on the court, race and election integrity

Alison Gash, University of Oregon; Alexander Cohen, Clarkson University; Rashawn Ray, University of Maryland

They shouted, they interrupted, they insulted – and not entirely in equal measure. But Biden and Trump also touched on the issues occasionally. Our panel of experts analyzed three key exchanges.


Science + Technology

Ethics + Religion

Environment + Energy

Politics/Election '20


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