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How’d They Do?

September 27th, 2016

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It really was the showdown between the two presidential candidates everyone was waiting for — Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton debating each other for the first time in front of an estimated audience of 100 million Americans as they vied for possibly one of the most important jobs in the world — President of the United States. No pressure! Especially since the polls show they are virtually tied and the election is just weeks away!

It was also the first time a female nominee of a major political party has been one of the two candidates on the debate stage.

How did it go? And who won?

That depends on whom you ask.

News reports in general seem to be in some agreement about how the evening played out: that Mr. Trump, a businessman and reality TV host, started out reasonably well, calmly and coherently discussing the issues Americans want to hear about. But that as the 90-minute debate wore on, Mr. Trump grew louder and more reactive. He was accused by some of bullying behavior (including  The New York Times and The New Yorker   ) with his interruptions of Mrs. Clinton and the moderator, NBC News’ Lester Holt.

One undecided voter told Time magazine , “If he was a student in my middle school classroom, I would have told him to finish answering the question you were being asked, and then shut your mouth.”

Many also generally agree that Mrs. Clinton maintained her steadiness and continued to demonstrate her command of policy. Mr. Trump acknowledges that Mrs. Clinton is experienced (it would be hard not to given that she’s been First Lady, a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State) but he argued last night that it’s “bad experience.” Mr. Trump and her detractors claim she is neither particularly likable nor honest. Mr. Trump also argued that for someone who’s been in politics for decades, she’s had her chance to accomplish the things she’s now saying she wants to do.

Fact-checkers were kept busy last night, and a detailed analysis of fact versus fantasy can be found here . During the debate, Mrs. Clinton accused Mr. Trump of living in his “own reality” and at one point asked him to “join the debate by saying more crazy things.”

Mr. Trump is claiming the debate a victory this morning on his Facebook page citing informal online polls . Some political pundits (experts) on TV last night argued otherwise, even some Republicans. Others say there was no clear winner.

Did the debate change anyone’s mind?

Probably not. If you really like your candidate, you probably still like him or her no matter what your perception is of how last night went.

And right now, in terms of the general election, many polls are showing that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are neck-and-neck. So people are anxiously looking to the  roughly 3-10% of voters who are still undecided  to see what they thought about last night … and how they may vote in the end. With two more presidential debates, on  October 9th and October 19th , that remains to be seen.

It’s possible that a relatively small group of people who still haven’t made their choice just weeks from the election, could end up being the difference for the entire country, and the entire world, for who makes it to the White House … and who doesn’t.

But no matter how contentious this presidential election is, or how strongly you feel about your candidate … even Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump conceded last night that they would support the outcome of the election if the other won. It’s probably safe to say that given what’s at stake, that was not easy for either of them to do. And, hopefully, that will ultimately set the tone for our country more so than the fighting about it up until now.

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