1. It Started Out Pretty Strong!
For the first 15 minutes or so, they both actually spoke about important policy issues. They talked about trade policy, jobs, the economy, climate change (more on that later), and clean energy. Both candidates did a decent job responding to the moderator’s (Lester Holt) questions, and it didn’t instantly deteriorate into almost pure character assassination until a little while later in the evening.
2. Holt Had A Hard Job– And It Showed.
Anyone who is given the job to control two such controversial candidates with such powerful personalities is in for a rough night. Holt had a hard time keeping with time limits, and there was a clear lack of respect from one candidate in particular (read: Trump). When Holt did venture into the ‘fact-checking’ realm of moderation, he was blatantly (and rudely) contradicted by Trump in a gross show of disrespect. In the end, Holt veered toward the tactic of letting the candidates dig their own hole– i.e. for the most part, he rarely interrupted them. In the end, he seemed to do a good job in a very tough situation.
3. Demographic Gaps May Widen For Both
Between Trump’s disrespect toward the black moderator and his female opponent, he did little to attract some of the demographics he has been struggling with. When Holt brought up Trump’s past with birtherism, Trump was defensive and handled the situation poorly. When you add that to how Trump spoke about his support of Stop and Frisk, and how Holt pointed out that was now considered unconstitutional…it got a little awkward. Additionally, Clinton seemed to firmly hang on to her core supporters but failed to appeal to millennials any significant amount, which is the group her campaign has been wrestling with the most.
4. He. Kept. Interrupting. Her.
There were multiple times throughout the debate that Trump decided it was okay to consistently interrupt Clinton. With chants of “Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.” while she was speaking, coming across like a bully with a bad temperament (unless you ask him, of course). He thinks she is the one with the bad behavior– seems fake, but okay.
5. In the End, No Big Changes
*Sigh* In spite of all this, in the end, the candidates acted pretty much how they were expected to. Clinton was prepared and poised, with few exceptions (the mention of the email scandal got her a little flustered, but she recovered). Trump was his usual self. He was noisy and seemed to think that the more loud his voice got the more people would vote for him. I think it is safe to say that we need to start drinking now, folks.