2016 US Election, Nick Bibby

Bibby: Clinton wins First US Presidential Debate

Stay tuned, as more of our panel post decisions in the coming hour… 

Judge: Nick Bibby

Winner: Hillary Clinton

By all sorts of standards, Hilary Clinton won this debate and won it easily. She was stronger on content and more polished in demeanour – matter and manner, an easy win.

Trump should never have allowed the conversation about his taxes to have become an issue, instead he ceded ground on it. “Fighting ISIS your entire adult life” was just odd. Encouraging China to take a more active military role in the region… Trump looked like a rookie fresher who thinks you can win a debate just by shouting the same thing over and over again and then being surprised that people are actually listening and waiting for him to say something. I’ve been judging debates for over twenty years and I can’t think of a standard by which Hilary Clinton was not an easy winner of this debate.

However, debate judges are a very particular audience. They are a long way from being representative of anyone else. Trump wasn’t trying to appeal to me, he was attempting to demonstrate a very particular persona to a very particular audience – or, rather, a reasonably particular range of audiences.

Could Trump’s bluster resonate with persuadable audiences within his gravitational field? I think there is very good reason to believe not. His admission, apparently, that he had paid no taxes is likely to play badly, his tendency to look rattled, to interrupt, to argue with the moderator – to just be rude – might have been a justifiable approach for a debater absolutely in control of the issues. For one who had so clearly not bothered to prepare for a job interview, it only gave appalling matter a tacky veneer of genuinely shoddy manner.

In short, even by Donald Trump’s own standards and the needs and interests of his own campaign, he failed and failed badly.


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