Election Debates declares Hillary Clinton the winner of the Second Presidential Debate in a unanimous 5-0 decision.
Secretary Clinton outlined a clear, consistent policy approach based on a vision that she regularly related to the question. Her opponent, Donald Trump went negative and stayed negative. While many of his attacks were effective and went unchallenged, he was unable to balance them with a relevant and consistent substantive case of his own.
Election Debates’ Jason Jarvis stated the Secretary Clinton “presented the strongest substantive arguments in the debate. She presented a calm, clear vision for the nation that is founded on inclusivity and tolerance.” Many of her arguments held together neatly under this vision. It served as a useful counterpoint to the divisive approach of her opponent.
Praba Ganesan felt that “Clinton easily edged Trump by being far more substantial in her policy explanations-rationale and with a shade better willingness to engage.”
Throughout the debate Secretary Clinton clearly linked her response to the question. While relevance is always a key consideration when assessing the strength of an argument, it is particularly important in the town hall format.
It was not all her way, though.
“Hillary did a much worse job rebutting Trump’s fantasies and fabrications than Trump did on attacking Clinton on almost every point she raised,” said Nick Bibby, in his assessment.
Ray D’Cruz added:
“At times the Democratic nominee struggled with the force of his negative material: “everything’s not true” and and go to Hillary.com are not credible responses.”
“But on the very same issues he offered few substantive arguments. The one exception to this was his astonishing rebuke of his running mate on military strikes in Syria: “He and I haven’t spoken and we don’t agree”. In debate terms, a team inconsistency on a pivotal issue is considered very poor.”
His inconsistencies flared again as Mr Trump backtracked from his ban on Muslims entering the country to argue for extreme vetting.
“On the question of Islamic Terrorism, Trump’s move to “extreme vetting” was a brilliant move on the policy level, but remained disconnected to anything other than an indictment of the status quo,” argued Steve Llano.
The manner of both speakers provided a clear contrast.
“I don’t know if Trump’s demeanor hurt his persuasive ability tonight, but it did seem that in the first third of the debate he was much more serious, measured, and performing less of the type of figure that energizes his base,” commented Steve Llano.
Secretary Clinton was measured and calm under ferocious personal attack; hers was a presidential manner.
Clinton won the non-verbal portion of the debate by showing a sharp contrast with Mr. Trump, according to Jason Jarvis.
“While Clinton smiled and sat down when not speaking, Trump paced constantly and appeared to be grumpy and angry throughout the debate, frequently sparring with the moderators as well as with Clinton herself.”
Overall, while Mr Trump was effective in a negative sense, bringing many pre-prepared attack lines into the debate, he failed the relevance test too many times, struggled to present a positive case and went too far in his personal attack, distracting from the real issues.
Individual analysis in full: