Most viewers would agree Clinton won the first Presidential debate. She was calm, relaxed and presidential compared to an abusive and abrasive Trump. CNN suggests 62% of viewers believe she won the debate compared to 27% for Trump. However, as polling day looms it will be his debate that people talk about, not Clinton's. Trumps tactics are sound.
His first masterstroke was to begin the debate through the core of his campaign: Make America Great Again. Trump repeatedly asserted claims that outsourcing products from America to Mexico or China cost Americans jobs. It does not really matter how factual this is, he speaks directly to low-skilled workers who lost their jobs in the recession and passes blame. He justified their anger whilst Clinton only explains how she will make it better. What jobs will she introduce? Trump simply outlines he will bring back jobs in manufacturing, policing, and protection. Trump's wall promises a revival of economic prosperity and manufacturing in America's south. Whereas Clinton explained she could provide 10 million jobs, Trump detailed the jobs he could introduce. He spoke personally to the audience, whereas she spoke to them as a whole.
Another strong - albeit empty - point he made was on law and order. "We have to bring back law and order" was his main point. Make everyone peaceful. It really means nothing; it's a sound bite. This, as policy, means nothing. However, those concerned over race relations in North Carolina want peace and fair law and order practices. Clinton's plan to help race-relations and restrict gun control gets lost. That message was drowned out by Trump's promise to "make America great again".
Similarly with trade and the economy, Trump's easy fixes spoke to the audience whereas Clinton's problem is trying to explain her policies. Trump plays on voter fears, drowning out her policy pledges. Blaming trade deals like NAFTA on Clinton because of her husband's presidency was a low blow, but it reminded the audience that there has already been a Clinton presidency. It concerns voters that the Clinton's could have another presidency. Trump reminds them of this. Noticeably Bill Clinton has had a lower profile recently to disparage this claim, but Trump's reminder will do more damage to Hillary than her attacks on his business.
For national security, Trump made some odd claims. His statement that Clinton had been "fighting ISIS her entire adult life" was bizarre, but clever. He wants to make Clinton look incapable. The average American voter may not be aware of the developments in the Middle East, but are probably aware that terror has originated from there. He is effectively suggesting that she is old, weak and has continuously failed to protect America. ISIS may be the latest threat, but are voters aware it was formed before Clinton was Secretary of State? The impression for the less informed voter would be that Clinton is simply unable to combat terrorism. He stated that her plan was on her website and that ISIS could read it, trying to undermine her fact checking. Trump somewhat suggested that if Clinton cannot defeat ISIS, he should have a go. Albeit a bizarre strategy, undecided voters could have the impression she cannot stop terror.
Ultimately, Trump's line of attack was "she has experience, but bad experience". He is trying to undermine Clinton's character. This tactic is working. He has nothing to lose on character to the extent that he virtually admitted to not paying any taxes because he "is smart". Clinton's campaign has been about being the bigger person, collecting people together to be "Stronger Together". If he can undermine her on this, through attacks as mentioned before, he will secure the Presidency.
Finally, a point relating back to Clinton speaking to voters as a whole while Trump speaks to them directly. Trump was the only candidate to mention several states he had investments in, or had been to, or could promote jobs in. North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan - these are the states. These swing states could secure Trump a path to the White House. Trump demonstrates he cares about these states, jobs and wealth creation. If he continues to talk to the voters personally, he will snag this election regardless of his debating technique.
Clinton certainly won the presidential debate. She was the stronger candidate. But being strong can fade - she has two more debates to demonstrate she is continuously strong. But the worry, the fear and the undermining Trump does to Clinton will resonate with voters much longer. His personable approach to the voters will click with their fears that Clinton is not inspirational. Overall, his bad performance will be discussed at much further length than Clinton's good one. He will be the story. It is with these tactics that he could lose the presidential debates, but win the presidency.
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