Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Great Debate Debate

Last night's debate was one of the most watched in history, and what ten of millions of American voters saw was Hillary Clinton winning...or more accurately, Donald Trump getting stomped.

PPP's post debate survey, sponsored by VoteVets Action Fund, finds that voters nationally think Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the debate, 51/40.

Perhaps most important for Clinton is that among young voters, who she has under performed with, 63% think she won the debate to only 24% for Trump. 47% of voters in that age group said the debate tonight made them more likely to vote for her, to only 10% who say it made them less likely to vote for her. For Trump with that group on the other hand, only 23% said the debate made them more likely to vote for him to 39% who said it made them less likely to.

Clinton also won the debate by particularly wide margins with women (54/36) and voters who are either African American or Latino (77/13). Among white voters the debate was basically a draw with Trump coming out ahead 47/45.

Clinton emerges from the debate with clear advantages over Trump on temperament, preparedness to be President, and whether she can be trusted with nuclear weapons:

-By a 17 point margin, 55/38, voters say Clinton has the temperament to be President. On the other hand, by an 11 point margin, 42/53, voters say Trump does not have the temperament to be President. Among independents the gap is even wider- by a 56/36 spread they say Clinton has the temperament for the job, while by a 41/54 spread they say Trump does not.

-By an 11 point margin, 52/41, voters say Clinton is prepared to be President. On the other hand, by a 10 point margin, 42/52, voters say Trump is not prepared to be President.

-By a 21 point margin, 56/35, voters say they think Clinton can be trusted with nuclear weapons. On the other hand, by a 9 point margin, 42/51, voters say they think Trump can not be trusted with nuclear weapons.

It was that bad, folks.  Trump spent the first half-hour interrupting Clinton relentlessly, while Clinton baited Trump time and time again and he could not resist, all but admitting he paid no federal taxes because he was bragging about how "smart" he was to dodge the IRS, advocating for the invasion of North Korea, and completely mangling America's nuclear policy.

In other words, if Trump's plan was to capitalize on the recent polls and take the lead, he ran into cold, hard reality last night.  Clinton pushed his buttons and by the end of the night Trump was screaming at her.

Even Politico's Glenn Thrush thought Trump got smoked.

There were a couple of not-so-very-subtle signals here inside of Hofstra University that Donald Trump lost Monday night’s highly-anticipated debate against Hillary Clinton, and badly.

The first was the audible sound of groaning by some of his supporters (picked up by my attentive colleague Steve Shepard) inside the debate hall as Trump meandered self-defensively through a succession of answers against a very focused, very energized and very well-rehearsed Hillary Clinton.

Another tell: After the 90-minute sparring match finished, Clinton’s team practically bounded into the spin room – more in glassy-eyed disbelief than visible elation that things had gone so much better than expected. The GOP nominee’s people, by contrast, dribbled into the media pen like surly seventh-graders headed for homeroom the day before summer vacation. “F—k, let’s do this,” a prominent Trump surrogate said before diving into a scrum.

Trump and his new-ish messaging team have labored mightily to turn the avatar of populist rage into a reasonable facsimile of someone who you could see sitting in the Oval Office. But this best-laid plan unraveled on Monday – amid Clinton’s steely assault and the dignified interrogation of NBC’s Lester Holt, who struck a deft balance between facilitator, BS detector and lion tamer.

Within minutes of the opening bell, Clinton’s attacks forced domesticated Donald to go feral – he bellowed, interrupted her repeatedly, grunted, and toward the bedraggled end, became muted and pouty.

Another debate like that and the Village might even stop picking on Clinton for a while. 

We'll see.  The next clash is on Oct. 9 at Washington University, with the VP debate a week from today on Oct. 4th at Longwood University in Virginia.

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