There’s No Debate on the Outcome of Monday Night


Gillian Smith, News, Science and the Environment

Last Monday night, millions of people around the globe sat down to watch the first of the 2016 Presidential Debates. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton faced off against Republican Donald Trump, their common goal: to persuade the hearts of a nation that they could be leader of the free world.

Trump started the night off strong. He appeared, at first, to be uncharacteristically calm. But of course the charade wore off, and before long Trump was again on the attack. During just the first 26 minutes, he interrupted his opponent 25 times, and moderator Lester Holt was forced to chastised Trump repeatedly during the debate for breaking the agreed upon rules. Furthermore, Trump’s talking points lacked substance. Though quick to criticize the policy of the Obama administration, he lacked in actual solutions for America’s problems. Trump came off as unprepared, though because of this his talking points were concise. Instead of the traditional debate style of aiming for a thorough attack of the opponent, Trump repeated his message in simple, quick terms that could easily be reproduced as sound bites. This could pay off in the era of modern news cycles, where the average voter listens to just a few clips of a debate instead of the whole hour and a half.

Clinton on the other hand, was precise and factual. Her points were detailed, backed up with statistics, and thoroughly explained. This could go against her if some of what she says goes over the heads of middle America, as this could feed into the anti-intellectual rhetoric of Trump. Clinton’s speeches were polished, and the time she spent preparing for this debate was evident. She stuck to her prepared points, though often missed opportunities that could have been used to go off script and attack Trump. Instead of spending time fact checking and getting into arguments on specifics, Clinton focused her time on her own platform. She ended the debate strong, with a brutal attack on Trump’s blatantly sexist comments.

Overall, Clinton came off as polished and presidential, while Trump came off as childish. We will have to wait and see if this has an impact on the polls, but historically the first debate tends to determine the winner of the election. Of course, the American people will decide in the end, and with over a month left until election day, anything could happen.