Question rokitit Politics & International Relations

The US Presidential Debate

Who won in the US Presidential debate?

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Answer Expert #26314

On the 26th of September, the first of three live television Presidential debates took place between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. This was the most watched TV debate in history with approximately 100 million viewers. The two clashed on a number of topics, including their responses to terrorist threats, jobs and the current racial tensions in the US. Throughout the debate Trump attacked his rival, claiming she had neither the temperate nor the stamina to succeed in the role of President. Trump was not alone in his baiting tactics; Hillary often highlighted Trump's previous business deals that had gone sour and was more than happy to remind viewers that Trump refuses to release his tax returns.

While it is unlikely we will every truly be able to answer the question of who 'won' the debate, a number of polls have been carried out since the debate aired that may shed some light on how successful each candidate was perceived as being by their voters. Hours before the programme, US polls indicated the candidates were locked in dead heat in the race for the White House, so any change in this would likely indicate a winner in the debate. A CNN poll taken following the debate found that over 60% of those watching thought that Hillary won the debate, while only 27% suggested that Trump was the victor. This data may however be slightly skewed as 41% of those polled had identified themselves as Democrats while only 26% identified as Republicans.

A second post-debate poll carried out by Public Policy polling identified that 51% of voters felt Hilary was a clear winner, while only 40% suggested that Trump was the victor of the debate.

As well as this, a number of high profile news outlets have had their say: for example, the editorial board for the New York Times has stated that "when just one candidate is serious and the other is a vacuous bully, the term loses all meaning," suggesting Trump did little debating, preferring to use school playground tactics to try and throw his opponent off guard. The NYT Opinion writer suggested this tactic failed and Trump only succeeded in hurting himself, and that Clinton therefore crushed her opponent.