While it is somewhat debatable as to who won the first presidential debate, it is easy to assure two things: Donald Trump supporters feel that Trump destroyed Hillary Clinton in the debate, and Hillary Clinton supporters feel that Clinton destroyed Donald Trump. Despite Clinton’s trustworthiness and transparency issues, Hillary Clinton remained steady and calm throughout the debate. It seems that even Trump supporters would agree that at times Trump may have had some issues when it came to interrupting Clinton, and sometimes even interrupting with unnecessary rhetoric such as mentioning Rosie O’Donnell.
Many political commentators came to a consensus that Donald Trump started off extremely strong; especially when he mentioned bad trade deals such as NAFTA and the TPP, and even mentioning specific states that were/will be hurt by these specific trade deals. However, as the debate went on, and Trump continued to sniffle, it seemed as if some of Trumps answers became less coherent.
Despite lacking coherent answers to many questions Donald Trump at times did well when it came to tapping into the frustrations of voters who feel like the current status quo is not doing them any good. Trump frequently brought up the facts that businesses are moving overseas and Americans are losing their jobs, all while he kept blaming Secretary Clinton for these problems.
While Trump may have not given a clear outline of exactly how he will stop businesses from moving overseas, his frustration can easily tap in with American voters who feel like the current economy is not working for them.
When asked about their temperaments, Clinton and Trump had extremely different answers. Trump answered with “I have a much better temperament than she has! I think my strongest asset, may be by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.” On the other hand, Clinton giggled in order to state that her (and many Americans) may not agree with Trump’s response.
It is pretty difficult to argue that Hillary Clinton did not do her homework. She knew exactly how to compose herself, she did not let Trump’s frequent interruptions phase her, and she gave clear answers to the questions she was pressed on. Whether Hillary Clinton’s track record supports her answers and consistency is a completely different topic, however.
With Donald Trump’s best moment perhaps being the beginning of the debate when he showed sympathy for states such as Ohio and Michigan where trade deals have been hurting the job market, perhaps Hillary Clinton’s best answer was when she was asked to respond to Trump saying that she “does not look presidential” and that she “lacks the stamina to be president.”
Clinton did not give an in depth response to her not looking presidential enough, but she sure did give a solid answer to the question of whether or not she lacks the stamina to command; “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire … or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”
This debate definitely did not change the minds of Clinton or Trump supporters. However, this debate could have helped undecided voters get a glimpse into what a Clinton or Trump presidency could be like.
On one hand, undecided voters may flock to Trump as they are frustrated with the status quo and Clinton’s scandalous past. On the other hand, undecided voters may shift to Clinton as she proved herself to be a poised, tested leader who is able to keep her cool in tense situations.
Based on factual data, there are more registered Democrats than registered Republicans which could play to Hillary Clinton’s favor in November. But polls are indicating there is a large enthusiasm gap between Clinton and Trump, with Trump supporters being more enthusiastic for their candidate.
With President Obama’s approval rating at the highest it has been since 2009, Clinton should have no problem winning this election. However, Clinton must fully engage the Democratic base and make sure that Democrats turn out to vote on November 8th.
It is difficult to predict which candidate benefited the most from the debate, especially since post-debate polls will not be released for another few days. Due to Trump’s frequent interruptions and slightly incoherent responses at times, Clinton may benefit slightly more than The Donald after this debate.