Clinton vs Trump round one: And the winner is…?

Read few comments regarding first presidential debate, Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton.

David McCuan, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Sonoma State University

If the Presidential Debates are an interview for the biggest job in the world, we see little resolved after this first debate. Each candidate will have to come back for a subsequent interview. These candidates will need a few more slices of our attention, for better or for worse, as we move forward. The last debate, scheduled late in the game on 19 October, could be a much more influential game changer than what we see so far.

Secretary Clinton went hard after Trump on occasion, yet she also has to lay out a connection to her humanity and vision in order to “connect” with voters. This is not about just motivating her base – so far, the Democrats plan is to draw out their base plus one in order to build a coalition that gets her to 270 electoral votes. Given the nation’s demographics, this should be straightforward yet her candidacy needs to go farther to reach out and build a stronger motivation, especially among Hispanic and Millennial voters, in order to win.

Donald Trump, needs to do more as well, especially on details and beyond his pugilistic style in order to build his coalition for 270 electoral votes. He has to do more in a serious tone, which he tried to portray tonight, on key issues of the day. His campaign style of bluster and bullying worked well for about fifteen months. He needs to build a different approach to get to the middle, to put himself over the top. He has clearly tapped into some element of anger and distrust, along with some elements of fear and frustration. Trump was calmer this time out, from debates past, yet he still needs to do more in order to get himself over the top. He can do that by laying a positive vision as well in Debates Two and Three.

SO, at base, the conclusion here is Secretary Clinton has probably stemmed the move away from her in the polls, but each candidate needs to do much more in order to close the gap among persuadables and to hold that group into the absentee and Election Day voting periods.

John PitneyProfessor of Politics, Claremont McKenna College

Trump did poorly in the debate.  His first answers were fairly coherent, but he quickly starting showing the short temper and bad manners that have alienated many voters.  His worst moments came when he repeatedly denied that he had supported the American invasion of Iraq.  He simply lied — as reporters and commentators will remind us for days to come.

Clinton did well.  She knew her material, she showed presidential temperament, and she had clever lines that she deployed to good effect.

One caveat:  it will take a couple of days for public opinion surveys to tell us what effect — if any — the debate had on the election.

Steven GreeneAssociate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

1) It is perhaps impolitic for someone in my position to say so, but Hillary “won.” She was in command and in control. She took the fight to Donald Trump and clearly got under his skin. She clearly had a goal of raising issues of his temperament and there were times Trump barely seemed in control.

2) On policy issues, there were multiple times Trump was clearly out of his depth. Much harder to fake this one-on-one than in the multi-candidate primary debates.

3) Trump continued to push falsehoods that he’s known for and was called out for it on the spot by not just Clinton, but the moderator. Trump is really making his truthfulness more of an issue going forward.

4) Lastly, and probably most importantly, political reporters in the US clearly see it as a win for Clinton and are focusing on Trump’s mistakes. That media coverage is Clinton’s big “win” far more than what the people who watched the debate thought.

Brian Frederick, Department Chair, Political Science, Bridgewater State University

It was a very bitter and nasty debate. One of the most personally divisive I have ever seen at the presidential level. It should only serve to reinforce the candidates’ high negatives among the voters.

There were some key policy differences with Trump supporting across the board tax cuts and Clinton supporting higher marginal rates on high income people.

Trade was an issue where Trump managed to drive a wedge between Clinton and Obama.

Stop and frisk was also a major policy difference where both candidates answers will reinforce support among their political bases.

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