Only two weeks separate the country from the election. Two debates have happened since my last post, so here are my thoughts on both of them.
Clinton was fairly predictable Clinton in the second debate. Some of her answers were probably dodgy, but she said and did nothing that would cause her to lose support.
Trump, on the other hand, gave a performance that probably thrilled his stanchest supporters and maybe even some right-leaning independents who hate Clinton, but he didn’t really offer much to a lot of people. A lot of rambling answers, like talking about ISIS when asked about the sex tapes. He seemed really off in the first few answers, with the sniffling and the low energy, although he did improve. He contradicted his own running mate. The “You’d be in jail” line, like his whole performance, probably thrilled his supporters and the kind of people who chant “Lock her up!” at his rallies, but does that really play well to a 50 year old, college-educated moderate voter in a Philly suburb? He interrupted, although not as much as the last debate, and he complained about the moderators several times, which even if true, doesn’t make him look confident and like a winner.
Those are my highly biased opinions, but those are some of the things that may stick out to a lot of people. I think overall he landed some good attacks that could stick (certainly with his supporters, but I doubt with independents) and it was more or less a strategic draw. Given that all the evidence is that Trump’s down in key states and overall polls, he needed better than a draw, and in my view, he didn’t get that.
In the third debate, Trump seemed rather subdued–“low energy,” you could say–at the start, yet was a bit more disciplined than in the other debates. He didn’t really capitalize on some missteps from Clinton, who was solid but not utterly commanding–such as missing the chance to hammer her on a “pivot” on a question about an “open borders” comment she made in a private speech.
What sticks from the final debate, in my mind, is that Trump gifted Democrats with two phrases practically tailor-made to rally key demographics for a blue landslide: women and Latinos. “Bad hombres” and “such a nasty woman” were different in the context he spoke them in, the former being in an answer about immigration policy and the latter an interjection in one of Clinton’s last moments of speaking, but they’ve both taken on prominence following the debate. Trump has lost a significant amount of support from women, and he’s never really had support from Latinos, but this could rally turnout from both groups.