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Opinion Here’s how Trump and Biden scored in the debate — if you can call it that

(Tom Toles/The Washington Post)

Welcome to Rou—NO, TOTALLY FALSE, NOT TRUE—nd 71 of the Power Ranking, a speci—ASK YOUR PEOPLE, ASK ANYBODY—al off-cycle edition of smart co—DON’T USE THAT WORD AROUND ME—mmentary analyzing—

Sorry, still had this thing set on Debate Mode. That’s better. Read on to see how our Ranking Committee members made sense of the catastrophe in Cleveland, including how each candidate scored on a scale of 1 to 10.

— Drew Goins

Scoring President Trump

ONE… but does it go lower? Truly that was one of the most dispiriting and utterly useless things on television I have ever witnessed, and if you look at my Netflix recommendations, you will see that is saying a lot. Trump may not have hurt himself too much, but he didn’t manage to hurt Biden either — and he surely didn’t win over any skeptics. He certainly did hurt the country. The call to white supremacists to “stand back and stand by” was one example; the railing about a rigged election was another. — Molly Roberts

THREE. Got a few hits in, but his belligerence and rudeness is the dominant story. If his polls rise after this, Democrats have to do a lot of rethinking. — Henry Olsen

ONE. He had to win back voters, but his bullying, ranting and interruption likely sealed his fate. Who wants four more years of this? — Jennifer Rubin

THREE. He yelled, he interrupted, he growled, he tried to bully his way through the whole hour and a half. But he wanted to make Biden look weak and senile, and he failed. Trump gets such a low score because he’s behind and needed to land at least a staggering punch, and he didn’t. — Eugene Robinson

SEVEN. If this doesn’t kill the Commission on Presidential Debates, nothing ever will. It should be killed. The president won on points, thrashing the former VP on the lockdown, the lack of law enforcement support — and appearing to have to fight two against one. — Hugh Hewitt

FOUR. Trump did get some of his talking points heard, such as the idea that he’s gotten more done in 47 months (though it’s been almost uniformly destructive) than Biden has in 47 years. But all of Trump’s snarling interruptions and his demented attacks on Hunter Biden ensure he’ll take the blame for turning the debate into a bickering match. And that will only remind viewers of the nonstop chaos that has already driven away the voters he needed to win back. — Greg Sargent

FIVE. I have no idea how to score that mess. Fives for both for now, and we’ll see how the polls look soon. — David Byler

TWO. The real winner was anyone who decided to watch something else. — Karen Tumulty

Post Opinions columnists watched the chaotic first debate between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden so that you didn't have to. (Video: The Washington Post)

Scoring Joe Biden

FIVE. Handled Trump’s interjections better than I had expected but still showed a complete disdain for and even hatred for Trump that was unbecoming even if provoked. Did very well when talking uninterrupted to the camera. — Henry Olsen

EIGHT. Biden delivered near knockouts on covid-19, race and voting integrity, but apart from any particular answer radiated calm and maturity. — Jennifer Rubin

FOUR. The former VP was marginally less intrusive than Trump but lacked some basic courtesies owed the head of state even if you hate him — a “fool,” “shut up,” “clown,” etc. Biden declaring that he was the whole Democratic Party and refusing to answer the question about court-packing, well, those bits were remarkable. — Hugh Hewitt

SEVEN. He didn’t implode, but he didn’t make Trump explode either. And how could he have? Debating Donald Trump is not like debating a human. It is like debating a Bop It, and I am pretty sure Bop It is a game you never actually win. But all Biden has to do with his steady lead is run out the clock. — Molly Roberts

SIX. Too much of what he said went unheard because of Trump’s disgraceful antics, but he didn’t get hurt in any significant way, so he gets a higher score. He’s ahead and didn’t make the kind of slip-up that could hurt him. But he should have come back to the fact that all the American carnage Trump was talking about is happening on Trump’s watch. — Eugene Robinson

SEVEN. Biden accomplished three of the things he needed to get done: Remind voters that Trump would destroy the Affordable Care Act; look wavering working-class White people in the eye and tell them he’s on their side when it comes to the economy; and underscore once again that Trump lies about literally everything, while somehow doing so politely. Biden had some rocky moments, but they won’t be remembered, and those other things will. — Greg Sargent

FIVE. As I said above, we’ll let other people’s numbers decide. — David Byler

SIX. Remind me — when does “The Crown” come back? — Karen Tumulty


Last week’s ranking: Round 70 | Here’s who gets the Supreme Court seat — and how many there will be next year

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, [CROSSTALK]

P.S. Scoring Moderator Chris Wallace

NEGATIVE TEN! — Jennifer Rubin

Read more on 2020:

Post columnists’ real-time commentary from the first presidential debate

Jennifer Rubin: Trump blows up the debate — and himself

Alyssa Rosenberg: I recapped ‘Game of Thrones.’ This debate was wilder.

Gary Abernathy: Trump the disrupter has lost his novelty

Dana Milbank: Only the Proud Boys can take pride in Trump’s debate hooliganism