29 thoughts on “First Debate Thread”

  1. I think Trump will probably “win” the debate, but not on substance, but rather, on beating expectations. I expect he will do his best to seem presidential. His tactic will probably be rather one-dimensional. That is, he will try to hammer exclusively on the perception that Clinton is “crooked.”

    Meanwhile, Clinton will provide much more substance and specifics about her policies, something she’ll suggest that Trump can’t do, because he doesn’t know what to do. She’ll also stick to standard attacks on his behavior towards certain demographics, as well as talk about his failed and/or “crooked” business projects in his past.

    I don’t expect Clinton to give a satisfactory response to Trump’s attacks. I think Trump will deny, rather than convince anyone that Clinton’s own attacks aren’t true.

    On personality, Clinton will look to say some programmed zingers, but she won’t otherwise be anything other than robotic. I think she’ll refrain from raising her voice, since polls have shown that people like it when Trump does it, but not when she does (sort of sexist isn’t it?). Trump will be “boring” in this debate.

    I expect Trump’s numbers to increase after the debate as anti-Trump conservatives reluctantly give him some support after seeming more “presidential” during the debate. Some Libertarians might switch from Johnson to Trump. Clinton will also gain a little as moderate Libertarians drop Johnson for Clinton.

    I expect Trump to take a slight lead in the polls until the 2nd debate. Trump will be expected to “win” again, but win on substance in the 2nd debate.

    Using the game ratings, I’d say Trump gets a 6 and Clinton a 5. Neither do well. Both will be too cautious, I think.

    I hope Clinton crushes Trump, naturally.

  2. I can’t believe how close the race is. Clinton’s poor campaigning combined with hyper partisanship have clearly raised Trump up to be neck and neck with her. Also I believe the raw enthusiasm of Trump supporters and the lack of enthusiasm from Clinton supporters is also playing a role. I firmly believe almost any other democrat would be up by 5 or more on Trump and almost any other Republican would be up by 5 or more on Clinton. Although I could be wrong. It could just be because of all the constant gaffes and scandals the public doesn’t care and simple partisanship is keeping the race close. Also Johnson and Stein seem to be affecting Clinton’s numbers more than Trumps so that may be playing a role but it’s starting to become less prevalent in the head v head and 4 way race polls.
    I think Clinton and Trump have a close to equal chance of “winning” the debate but because of low expectations for Trump he has a slightly higher chance of “winning.” A win tonight may give him a lead in the polls and push him over 270 EV’s in 538’s forecast. However there will still be 5 weeks and 2 more debates and if Trump wins tonight he won’t have the expectations advantage anymore (much like Romney).
    Trump could actually win the presidency if he stays disciplined but I would still say Clinton has the advantage even if she loses tonight and goes down in the polls just because of the natural advantage democrats have in the Electoral College.
    Personally I hate both of them and will have a hard time watching tonight, but I love politics so I can’t not pay attention.

  3. It would’ve been so much better if it was a Sanders V. Trump. Clinton is the worst candidate the democrats ever nominated

  4. @Sean

    Trump would just keep calling Sanders a “Commie” over and over again, as his sole argument. Unfortunately, that probably would be enough to stop Sanders. I say this as a Sanders supporter.

  5. @Jonathan
    As a conservative Republican I can tell you I would have actually considered supporting Sanders over Trump. There is no way I could ever support Hillary Clinton even with someone like Trump as the nominee.

  6. If Trump can go out there and hold his tongue for 90 minutes, he will probably be declared the winner. The expectations for him are disgustingly low for this one. I don’t expect this one to do much to help Hillary. That being said, he’s gonna have to bring more than that to the table in #2 and #3, and I don’t think he has it in him. Whatever bump he gets from this one will probably vanish with the next two. I’m thoroughly disgusted with both of them (him moreso), but barring a total meltdown from Hillary, I think she’ll hold on to the slim upper hand she’s got and win the whole thing.

  7. @Chris

    That’s interesting. I’m wondering why a conservative would support a socialist over a right-leaning politician, or even over a center-left politician? I understand disliking a candidate, but the policies, appointees (including Supreme Court justices), will be separate from the candidates dislikability. I dislike Clinton, but I’m easily supporting her, because her platform and her appointees are likely closer to my ideal than Trump’s platform and appointees would be.

  8. I’m still disappointed that Gary Johnson was left off. No matter what you think of him, this is in fact a four way race and we have a right to hear from him and Stein.

  9. @Jonathan
    It comes down to character. I consider Bernie to be a honest person who genuinely cares about people. I consider Hillary to be a selfish lying corrupt politician. I consider Trump to be someone who I have absolutely no clue as to what he will be like. He says things and then flips and acts like he never flipped, he is a egomaniac with no core principles in my opinion.
    Also because Bernie is so liberal economically it gets missed that he is more moderate socially. He doesn’t consider people against abortion to be evil in the same way Hillary does. He is more respectful of others beliefs than Hillary is.
    Ultimately I probably would not bring myself to vote for Bernie but it would keep me from voting for Trump and I’d probably vote third party (not Johnson). Also none of what Bernie wants economically could actually get passed and because he is of decent character I’d be more comfortable with him.

  10. If Johnson and Stein were allowed to debate it would hurt Hillary. 2 months ago I would have said it would hurt Trump but based on polling data it is clear Johnson and Stein harm Hillary more than Trump. I believe that is why the media has no interest in compromising and allowing either of them in 1 debate.

  11. Still the american voters need to hear the full story. I don’t buy that Johnson and Stein are merely distractions. Their chances of outright victory are slim but they’re combining 15 percent for a reason

  12. Trump has done a great job so far. I like how he continues to point towards the failed policies of politicians over the years.

  13. @Jesse

    I actually think Clinton is clearly beating Trump throughout most of this debate. If you look at my comment at the beginning, I expected Trump to win. She’s been much more clear. He’s pretty much been incoherent and interrupting her constantly. He’s also been overusing debate time to speak into he can figure out what he actually wants to say. He sort of reminds me of Sarah Palin.

    I would be very surprised if Trump is declared the winner by the most credible news outlets. I was about 95% sure Trump would win. He really sort of bungled this. I will admit that he had a few strong instances, but they were too few. He also didn’t do anything or say anything memorable, which is a general strength of his.

    Clinton handled Trump tonight way better than any Republican in the primary. This surprised me. As someone voting for Clinton. I’m glad to see this was the case.

  14. Hillary clearly acted and looked more Presidential tonight. A bad debate from Trump. He was killed by birther issue tonight as well.

  15. Donald Trump won the debate. Hillary came off as a scripted, robot. She also spewed so many lies. She talked about the birth movement, but forget to mention it was her and her campaign that started it. She lectured Trump on his treatment of women, yet it was Clinton herself that paid women less than men, from 2001-2014. Moderator was clearly biased.

  16. @Chris

    Yeah. I don’t think there’s ever been a presidential nominee in the history of presidential debates that has handled themselves as poorly in a presidential debate as Donald Trump has in this debate.

    It’s not that Clinton was memorable or even excellent. She didn’t have to be. Possibly anyone reading this message could have outperformed Trump tonight.

    If he does this in the rest of the debates, he should probably have his debate skill lowered to 2.

  17. @Jonathan
    2nd and Third debate Romney would have beaten Hillary tonight. 1st debate Romney would have just plain slaughtered her. Trump is quite terrible at debating which is not a surprise to me. Id say a 2 or 3 is appropriate.

  18. @Chris

    If flash polls show Trump winning the debate, then I have to question the criteria for winning a debate. I would suggest a bipartisan committee of rules establish a debate point system. The winner is then announced at the end of the debate.

  19. @Dallas

    I think Clinton was far less scripted and robotic than she has been in the past. Certainly less so than Rubio was, in my opinion.

    After the debate, Clinton’s former campaign manager mentioned that they fired the worker that started the birther comment in 2008. In all, I think the birther part of the debate took up too much time. I think Clinton handled herself better on this topic than Trump did.

    Yes, Clinton did lecture Trump on women, and if Clinton paid women less than men on her campaign, then Trump should have used that in the debate. He did not. Not that I noticed. So you can’t take away debate point from Clinton for not mentioning something that Trump should have mentioned.

    You say the moderator was clearly biased, but he’s a registered Republican. He let Trump speak as long as he wanted to speak. He didn’t stop Trump from interrupting Clinton. He interrupted her nearly 30 times according to debate statistics. She interrupted him 3 times.

    Trump’s performance is easily the worst in presidential debate history in a general election by a presidential nominee. JFK, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Mondale, Bush I, Dukakis, Clinton, Dole, Perot, Obama, McCain, Romney all performed better than Trump did tonight in their worst debates. It was historically bad. Again, if you look at my first post, I was very certain — 95% sure Trump would win — so this isn’t bias or wishful thinking.

  20. I am not sure a winner can be declared in this debate. Trump has opportunities to hit Clinton and didn’t and Clinton had parts where she could effectively hit Trump and didn’t. Trump did great connecting politicians to the failures of the US, but he did have a few slip ups. Neither provided many specifics on policies but rather resorted to general statements on the issues.

  21. @Jonathan
    The difference between Rubio and Clinton’s “scriptedness” is Rubio has significantly more charisma than her. Had Rubio not messed up against Chrisite he would have been more highly regarded in terms of debating. There is no problem with being prepared or scripted provided you can get people fired up. That is a key weakness for Hillary- lack of enthusiasm.

  22. A question from the other side of the pond… How much difference do you think the debates make? Of course, there is the famous blue-chinned Nixon losing to Kennedy example, but is there any evidence that other debates have had a real bearing on the outcome? The BBC this morning didn’t “call” the debate for one or the other. And now a view from a British perspective… How did one of the world’s greatest democracies end up with two such unappealing candidates? Maybe I could partly answer the Trump part of that question by alluding to our own Brexit vote, to Corbyn leading the Labour Party (though I very much doubt he will ever be PM), both part of an anti-established-politics movement, mirrored one way and another in mainland Europe, and surely a significant contributor to Trump’s success so far. You certainly have for yourselves an interesting and sadly divisive election. And the world looks on with considerable trepidation.

  23. @Robert
    In very close races, the debates matter. For example, it is widely believed that the 1976 election turned on Ford mistakenly saying “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” instead of “Western Europe”. It’s impossible to tell, but given that he lost by fewer than 20,000 votes in Ohio, Mississippi, and Hawaii combined, it almost certainly had an effect. Likewise, given that Gore’s margin of defeat in 2000 was about 500 Floridians, his annoying, irritating sighs during the first debate and standing over Bush during the townhall debate probably cost him the election.
    For the most part, debates don’t win elections; they lose them.
    As for how the parties nominated two extremely unliked candidates, that came about from two different sources. Hillary, depending on whom you ask, was either such a formidable candidate that she cleared the field but for token opposition or helped by the DNC leaning on prospects to keep them out of the race (for example, if Hillary had not run, then VP Biden, Gov. Hickenlooper, Gov. Patrick, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. McCaskill, Gov. Nixon, and/or Gov. Inslee may have run). Then Sanders erupted, but that’s beside the point. Basically, she got the nomination in much the same way Theresa May took over the Tories.
    Donald, by contrast, took advantage of the media and Republican primary rules. He nailed down 25-30% of the party as his base of support and rode that to “win” after “win” simply by finishing first against 16 opponents who split the 40% who couldn’t stand him and the 30% who preferred someone else. By the time the race came down to three candidates, Trump had come in first in most of the primaries, taking advantage of the Republican Party’s generous bonuses for frontrunners and creating a narrative of inevitability in the media. Many in the base, more fearful of the establishment rigging a contested convention than of Trump’s candidacy, fell in line, especially after Trump won more than 50% of the vote in six Northeastern contests.

  24. @Eric
    And this one could be close – so I take all your points. There is an article by Daniel Finkelstein in today’s Times which resonates with a lot of what you say. Sadly, it’s on subscription, so you probably won’t be able to read it. This is his conclusion though:

    “American politics are more polarised than they’ve ever been, with people manning the barricades on both sides. Eight years of an African-American president has also, sadly, racialised party politics. Donald Trump is the candidate of white American males. His biggest appeal is to less well-educated people living in rural areas. Hillary Clinton is the candidate of African-Americans and women. The gaps are huge.
    You don’t like Donald Trump? You regard him as a menace and think his behaviour outrageous? Of course you do. Think who you are and what your interests are. Of course you do.
    His job, however is to motivate “his people” and Clinton hers. You wouldn’t select Trump if you wanted to expand the range of people tempted to vote Republican but, and this is critical, you wouldn’t choose Hillary Clinton to expand the range of those tempted to vote Democrat either. As hard as it sometimes is for British audiences to grasp, she is at least as polarising as he is.
    The breakdown of demographic groups favouring either side is so even that it suggests the election will be won by the candidate who gets their voters to turn out on the day.
    When Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton clashed on race and policing on Monday, you couldn’t pick a winner on debating skill. Mrs Clinton was trying to motivate African-Americans and Mr Trump was appealing to policemen and white males.
    Mr Trump’s language and behaviour often seems offensive to middle-class, university-educated Europeans but he’s not going after me. Or you either.
    Whether you think Clinton is unbearable or Trump appalling depends less on them than on you. And that’s beyond debate.”

    It gives you something to chew on! If he is right about voter turnout, the weather on election day might even be a factor. Or is that a very English thing to say?!

    Thank you for your succinct explanations.

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