First Debate Between US Presidential Candidates Reveals No Obvious Leader – Analysis


The first debate between the Democratic and Republican US presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, took place in New York State on September 26.

During the 90-minute debate, the candidates were trying to prove their vision of US foreign and domestic policy is the only right one; however analysts were unable to declare a clear winner.

The experts maintain that politicians avoided incorrect statements against each other and did not make factual errors while speaking, apart from some inaccuracies.

Hillary Clinton attacked her Republican rival’s credibility, saying that he is not possessing the proper temperament to be president. Donald Trump, meanwhile, accused the former Secretary of State of not being strong enough, reminding she was recently diagnosed with pneumonia.

According to the polls, the race is close: the main struggle is for the votes of undecided.

Commenting on the results of the debate, Daniel Chirot, the author of Modern Tyrants, Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, said the consensus is that Hillary Clinton did a much better job that Donald Trump.

“However, that may not have much effect on voting because Trump supporters already know what he is like and were probably not surprised by his style — all bluster, no real facts, no specific policy proposals,” he told PenzaNews.

In his opinion, the pre-election atmosphere in the country seems unfavorable.

“This is ugliest presidential election in anyone living’s memory. The public mood is disheartened as neither candidate is popular. At the same time, the public mood is tense because the two candidates are farther apart from each other in temperament, mood, and experience than anything since the election of 1860 that resulted in America’s civil war,” Daniel Chirot explained.

The odds are that Clinton will win, but that is not certain as the polls indicate a close race, he said.

“If Clinton wins, we can expect a continuation of the moderate liberal policies of the Obama administrations, but also continued efforts by Republicans to block as much as possible. If Trump wins he is like to pick very right wing judges and national security advisers, and to try to destroy as many of the regulatory branches of the government as possible. There is a real possibility that the uncertainty and chaos that would result could provoke an economic disaster. Also, racial conflict will increase, and there will be politically motivated violence,” the analyst said.

“Those of us who follow world events are well aware that Russia’s President seems to think it would be good if Trump wins. But actually, having an unpredictable, uninformed, and poorly advised president creates many dangers, including an increased risk of war and worldwide depression, something no one should be eager to see. Of course America would be weakened, but nothing will change the fact that it will remain the world’s greatest economic and military power for some time to come, and if it follows disastrous policies, everyone, including Russia and China, will suffer,” he suggested.

In turn, political expert Arthur Lupia from University of Michigan noted that the Republican did not bad in the first round of debate.

“Expectations for Donald Trump were very low. He exceeded them. His most effective points were asking why someone who had been in politics so long had failed to solve major problems with the economy and foreign policy. His allusions to a growing number of people and organizations endorsing him were also effective in giving moderate and undecided a basis for rethinking his candidacy,” the expert said.

His weakest moments were likely his admission that he may not have paid any income tax and his comments about his own temperament, he added.

“[Former] Secretary of State was strong on making linkages to her middle class roots. I believe that she also benefited from the debate’s circus atmosphere. If the audience is as large as estimated, it is likely the largest audience she will have had as a presidential candidate. She was strong on details but inconsistent in relating her ‘plans’ to voters’ concerns. Her repetition of the word ‘plans’ inadvertently reinforced Trump’s ‘why have you waited so long’ narrative. There were a few cases in the later part of the debate where she became bogged down in details to her detriment. Her final responses on Trump’s temperament, her own stamina, and Trump’s views on women were strong and direct,” Arthur Lupia said.

According to him, a key flashpoint of the debate will likely be the tax return – email exchange.

“Hillary Clinton’s raising of numerous hypotheses about why Trump was not releasing his tax returns was brilliant stagecraft. By raising the ideas as questions, rather than making assertions, the presentation can set the stage for days of questioning about the topic. Trump’s attempt to bind the question to release of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails will mute the effectiveness of Trumps’ stagecraft with his supporters,” the political expert said.

From his point of view, there is a great deal of tension about the presidential race.

“At the same time, many people are enthusiastic and optimistic about visions for the country coming from a variety of state and local candidates. […] I would not declare a winner of the debate at this point, but given the quality of Secretary Clinton’s responses against the recent bumps in her campaign, I would expect her to gain a slight edge in polling as a result of the debate,” the analyst added.

Mark Sawyer, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), shared the opinion that during the first debate Democrat surpassed her rival.

“Hillary Clinton was sharp and on her game. Trump was woefully unprepared. Trump had a descent opening but trailed off when he started interrupting Clinton and was clearly unprepared on a number of issues. He spent minutes on things he should keep to a minimum like his lie that he was against the war in Iraq. Clinton started slow but had a commanding performance,” the expert said, adding that the election race atmosphere in the US is terrible.

“Donald Trump has mainstreamed racist, and sexist ideas spoken by himself and has embraced groups associated with white nationalists. He has also re-tweeted white nationalists racist memes,” Mark Sawyer stressed.

“I expect Clinton to win due to her experience and Trump’s lack of discipline,” he added.

In turn, Tinashe Chuchu from School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, said that from his point of view, Hillary Clinton won the debate.

“First, Hillary Clinton was able to bring Trump’s past statements on women which are a strong reminder to voters about some of Trump’s many flaws. Second Clinton brought Trumps taxes and put him on the defence. […] Moreover, Clinton scored a big point when she raised the ‘birther controversy.’ Most Americans despise Trump for accusing President Obama of not being born in America,” the leading University of South Africa expert said.

In his opinion, Trump did not do enough to bring in any new voters or change opinions of undecided voters because the temperament he had during the primaries is the same as the one had when he faced off with Clinton.

“This is not to say that he doesn’t have a lot of supporters. He has strong support but he’s childish antics of speaking over debate opponents, moderators and constant one-liners made for TV only appeal to his base supporters and not more moderate voters,” Tinashe Chuchu explained.

According to him, Hillary Clinton will likely perform better in three big swing states: Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.

“Florida will likely swing in favor of Hillary Clinton due to the high Hispanic vote. Hispanics view Trump unfavorably because of his ‘I will build a wall’ remarks,” the expert said.

In his opinion, a Trump win will divide the country this is because he appeals to the most extreme elements of the country.

“His rallies have experienced racial tensions. It is well documented that his base supporters are anti-immigrant and clash with minorities. Meanwhile, a Hillary Clinton will probably keep the status quo. This is not to say the country will not be divided. Sure it will but it will look at lot like today since Clinton is viewed by most if not all that she will be a continuation of President Obama,” the analyst said.

“A Republican loss could be very devastating implying major changes to their ideologies, possibly becoming more inclusive of minorities. A Clinton loss would be less devastating but more embarrassing: she was a US senator and the US secretary of state, while Trump has never held elected public office with less than two years’ political experience. It would also be difficult for democrats to recover from such a loss,” he added.

According to Charles Henry, Professor Emeritus of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, the debate did not change any votes from the core supporters of either candidate.

“However, I think that those voters who haven’t made up their mind might be more inclined to vote for Clinton, especially after Trump’s comments about the weight of a beauty contest winner and his statement that not paying taxes was smart,” the expert said.

He also said that this is the most polarizing election environment he has seen with the exception of the 1968 election between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon.

“It is a difficult election to predict because Trump has supporters who have not voted in the past and Sanders had supporters who have not voted in the past. This makes the polls unreliable. The question is: will the Trump supporters turn out and will the Sanders supporters turn out for Clinton? This is also the first election I can remember in which a foreign power has been accused of trying to influence the vote,” Charles Henry added.

A tremendous amount of hype surrounded the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in New York, said Aaron Kall, Director of Debate at the University of Michigan.

“Trump opened strong during the first thirty minutes while concentrating his message on free trade and the workers in the swing states of Ohio and Michigan that are negatively impacted by such actions. The tenor of the debate quickly turned when the subject of birtherism was raised by moderator Lester Holt,” the expert reminded.

According to him, Donald Trump’s discussions on this topic are likely to offend African-American voters, with whom he is already struggling.

“Moreover, he similarly overshot the question regarding his temperament by claiming he had the best temperament. Close to two-thirds of American voters question Trump’s temperament to be president, so this proclamation likely stretched the imagination of many voters. Clinton finished the debate very strong by bringing up controversial past comments about women and Latinos from Trump. Since this interaction occurred so late in the debate, he didn’t have a real opportunity to respond,” Aaron Kall said.

He also stressed that the Republican avoid talking about past infidelities by President Clinton.

“Instead of employing the nuclear option, Trump took the high road and even said he would abide by the results of a Clinton election victory. Clinton came across as the more experienced and prepared candidate during the debate,” he said.

In his opinion, Trump’s supporters are very loyal, but for him to win the election he must attract more undecided and moderate voters to his side.

“Clinton probably is a 55–65 percent favorite to win the election as of today. She’s currently favored, but the race is close enough where the additional debates and other factors could still impact the ultimate trajectory of the race. […] Given that approximately 84 million people tuned into the first debate and no knockout punch was delivered, I expect interest in the last two debates to remain strong. These will likely be the last two opportunities for major movement to occur in the race,” Aaron Kall concluded.

There are three rounds of United States presidential election debates.

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took place at Hofstra University in Hempstead (New York State) on 26 September 2016.

According to CNN post-debate poll, Hillary Clinton became the winner by 62% to 27%. However, the Republican nominee published winning tweets with the results of other polls. In particular, he shared the data by The Time showing he is ahead by 59% to 41%,The Hill — 59% to 36%, СNBC — 61% to 39%.

The second presidential debate will take place in Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9. The third presidential debate will be held in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on October 19.

The United States elections are scheduled for Tuesday, November 8.


Penza News

News agency PenzaNews is Russian independent information project, which supplies a steady stream of news. The website is constantly updated to bring the top stories from the city of Penza and the Penza region. The Analysis center of the agency covers important political, economic, cultural and other significant events in Russia and abroad.

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