Analysis: During debate, Donald Trump leans on tone that turns off voters he needs

President Donald Trump needed to make the first general election debate about his rival, Democrat Joe Biden. Instead, as he so often does, Trump made it about himself.

The president set the tone from the start for one of the ugliest general election debates in recent memory, badgering Biden and repeatedly interrupting him. Biden alternated between ignoring the president and growing visibly irritated. Moderator Chris Wallace admonished and pleaded with Trump to allow his rival to speak.

Trump’s aggressive posture may have appealed to his most passionate supporters — a primetime display of the brashness he has brought to the Oval Office. But by the end of the 90-minute contest, it was unclear whether Trump succeeded in making up any ground in trying to expand his coalition or win over persuadable voters, particularly white, educated women and independents who have been turned off in part by the same tone and tenor the president displayed on the debate stage.

“Trump brought the chaotic nature of his presidency to the debate stage,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist. “He needed to knock Biden off his game, but he may have just reminded independent voters why they’ve turned against him.”

Indeed, if there

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