A Few Things to Know: After the First US Presidential Debate

You’d be forgiven if you thought it was 2020 while you were watching the first Presidential Debate in Atlanta. COVID-19, the economy, immigration and democracy were once again core themes throughout. The major difference: Today, America and the world are experiencing different economic, social and international dynamics. Geopolitical tensions have ratcheted up and the economy is facing a new set of challenges including inflation. Uncertainty is the new reality in 2024. Here are a few takeaways and potential impacts on business next year. 


There are substantive differences between the two candidates that should be familiar to voters. 

Rifts in the debate centered around the core issues Americans are voting on: the economy, immigration, abortion access, climate, and the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.


Biden is going to have to explain his age. Again. 

More than once, Biden lost his train of thought, which Trump capitalized on. Concerns about Biden’s age and health have dogged his campaign from the start. Americans are nearly twice as likely to say Biden is too old to be president (67%) versus Trump (37%).


Former President Trump disregarded the facts and declared “my retribution is going to be success.”  

President Trump seized on Biden’s uncertainty, delivering misleading attacks on President Biden’s record, the 2020 election and his commitment to social security. He also recently told voters that, if he wins in November, he will get retribution and persecute his political enemies.


What should brands do now? Rise above the politics. 

Brands are at the tip of the spear of change—but only if they can delicately carve out their actions—and consumers are turning to brands to express their political self-identity.

  • The line between brands and society has dissolved. Today, consumers are expressing their politics—and their power—through brand choices, contributing to a new normal that is opening brands up to exposure they cannot avoid. Consumers expect brands that are under pressure to take a side on a controversial or political issue. (Link)

Businesses should determine their permission space, speak with clarity about issues core to their values, and communicate why and what the company is doing to lead. Plan for every scenario.

  • Brands should map out what a second Biden or Trump administration will look like for them, their consumers and their industry so they can effectively lead in 2025 and beyond.

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