Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump won the first presidential debate of the 2016 season.
Going into the debate, both candidates knew what they had to do in order to walk out of the auditorium at Hofstra University feeling hopeful for the rest of the 2016 election season.
Richard Himelfarb, an associate professor of political science at Hofstra University, said that the results of the Sept. 26 debate ultimately would come down to likeability and stature of the candidates.
“The debate is going to be decided on body language, tone and temperament. It will all be about tone and demeanor and much less about substance,” Himelfard told Fox News.
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With respect to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the associate professor said, “[Clinton] will come to the debate armed with a deep knowledge of the issues, but ultimately has to show she can be likeable. She has to come off as dismissive [of Trump’s barbs] but not in a patronizing way.”
Because Clinton failed to achieve this level of likability during the debate, Trump can safely claim a victory in the eyes of the media and the American voting population.
CNN writer Mel Robbins is an avid Clinton supporter but agrees that Trump performed better during the first debate.
“[Clinton’s] rebuttal to Trump's incoherent rants was to chuckle and tell viewers to check in with the fact checkers. The fact checkers won't win the election for her,” Robbins wrote, according to CNN.
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Due to the split-screen style of broadcasting for the debate, viewers had the chance to hear candidates’ responses to their opponents’ comments as well as see their facial reactions in real time.
“Debates are aimed at revealing not only policy proposals but also personality and temperament. Split screens help illuminate who these people are when under duress and attack, when they are nervous and when they feel backed into a corner,” commented Washington Post writer Chris Cillizza.
While Cillizza used this reasoning to claim that Clinton won the debate, his observations support Trump’s cause much more than Clinton’s.
Clinton’s campaign advisors urged her to refrain from attacking Trump in order to maintain likeability, according to Robbins. Following this advice, however, led to Clinton’s downfall.
“Hillary Clinton's strategy was to rise above the occasion and let him talk himself into losing. That actually allowed Trump to land one blow after another without Clinton fighting back. She wittily put him down a couple of times. But mostly she just smiled oddly at the camera,” commented CNN writer Timothy Stanley.
All of this was captured on the split screen and, likely, will be tallied in the next release of polling data.
By remaining calm and collected during the first half of the debate, Trump sealed his victory in the first 45 minutes of televised discussion. He achieved the likeability necessary to win the debate.
At times, his words matched his demeanor in appealing to the American public. To use the words of Stanley, Trump had “clear themes that he rammed home.”
Trump spoke about keeping jobs in America, the negatives associated with NAFTA, and other topics that interest the typical American viewer, according to CNN.
In contrast, Clinton’s commentary seemed to reach a level only accessible to intellectuals and other political gurus.
“She was too presidential, said Robbins. “She did not speak to the average American.”
On the basis of likeability and appeal to the typical American viewer, Donald Trump unquestionably won the Sept. 26 debate.