Twitter Declares A Surprising Winner Of The First Debate

With so much on the line in November 2020, viewers across the nation tuned into watch the election cycle's first presidential square-off between Republican candidate, President Donald Trump, and Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden. The night — full of promise as the candidates' families shuffled in to fill the seats — quickly went south as what could have been a productive debate was reduced to rambunctious quips and petty name-calling. Celebs joined in on social media, some reminding their fans to just breathe as the night went on.

Particularly interesting were Trump's repetitive interruptions and Biden's meme-worthy, "Will you shut up, man?" quote. One CNN anchor described the night quite aptly: "That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a trainwreck," Jake Tapper told his viewers. Another pundit agreed, calling the night a "s**tshow."

Those from the Republican side of the aisle seemed to agree as well, with Senator Rand Paul, former presidential runner himself, telling Fox News that the entire affair was "exhausting." "Why don't we do a 30-minute interview with each candidate in separate rooms?" Paul suggested. "Don't put them in the same room, but really try to get a little bit more of an in-depth conversation and challenge them and push them to answer questions more completely."

Yeah, that's how bad it was. While usual debates result in a winner of the night, plenty of people seemed to agree that there was no successor in the first debate. However, Twitter has a more creative answer.

Twitter declared 'SNL' the real winner of the debate

Would it even be a presidential debate without political Twitter imploding? In usual fashion, the social media site couldn't help but add to the opinions pouring out from countless pundits, anchors, and analysts. However, many Twitter users thought the real winner from the first presidential debate was different from the norm. This time, Twitter seems to think the real winner from the catastrophe of a debate was actually Saturday Night Live. The new season of the comedy series premieres on Oct. 3, 2020, just in time to create a parody of the spar between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

"The only person happy with this debate debacle is [producer and screenwriter] Lorne Michaels with @SNL coming back live this Saturday," tweeted broadcast journalist Andrea Mitchell. Others agreed. "If the first presidential debate is any indication, SNL's season premiere cold open with @JimCarrey is going to be hilarious," one person said. "The only person winning this debate is the show writer for SNL," another user commented.  

Elections tend to boost 'Saturday Night Live's viewership

Whether it's possible to make a parody out of a debate that felt like a parody remains to be seen. As one Twitter user suggested, writers might be "tearing their hair out trying to make a parody of this debate that's more absurd than reality." However, leave it up to Saturday Night Live's producer and creator, Lorne Michaels, to pull something out of his hat. In fact, while this election season seems out of the ordinary, it wasn't too long ago that SNL was benefiting from election season. 

In 2017, on the heels of the 2016 elections, SNL viewership increased 19% in adults ages 18-49 and 22% in all viewers compared to the same period in 2015-2016. According to NBC (via Variety), those percentages made it the show's most successful performance among viewers in 22 years, since 1994-95. Then, in 2019 (which wasn't election year), SNL experienced a "big drop" in ratings, dipping 30% among 18-49-year-olds, The Hill reported.

Gearing up for another election including President Trump, it's possible SNL's numbers will be up once more. According to Vice News, ratings for the show typically increase during election years. For example, the show was also rated higher during the 2008 election, likely thanks to Tina Fey's popular portrayal of Sarah Palin, who was running as vice president at the time. However, the digital outlet pointed out, Trump gave the show a particularly sizable boost in viewers in 2016-17. Will 2020 be a repeat?