With election day six weeks away, U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Tuesday and gave critical reviews of each other’s performance in their first head-to-head debate.
Many independent analysts said Clinton won Monday’s debate and could get a boost in national polls that showed her a few points ahead of Trump.
Trump lacked details
Speaking to supporters in North Carolina, Clinton cast her opponent as lacking details during the debate.
“I got a chance to say a few things about what I want to do if I’m so fortunate enough to be elected as your president. And you know, I do have this old-fashioned idea that if I’m asking for your vote, I should tell you what I want to do,” she said.
Trump says he won
Trump said after the debate that he won, and at a rally Tuesday night in Florida suggested he could have done even better.
“For 90 minutes, I watched her very carefully and I was also holding back. I didn’t want to do anything to embarrass her,” he said.
The two candidates will debate twice more before the November 8 vote, the next coming on October 9.
Clinton could pick up points
Political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University in Atlanta and poll analyst Nate Silver both said Clinton could add another two points to her edge after she kept Trump on the defensive through much of the first debate, attacking him for refusing to release his U.S. income tax returns, for failing to pay some contractors he hired to build his golf courses and casinos, and for his lengthy history of slurs against women.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if her poll numbers move up a little,” Abramowitz told VOA. “I think it might go up a couple points. I think it makes it a little more difficult for Trump,” the Republican nominee, to reach a majority in the Electoral College where U.S. presidential elections are decided based on state-by-state results rather than the national popular vote.
He called Clinton’s debate performance “calm, cool and collected,” and said she was “able to talk about the issues.” He described Trump as “rather bombastic and superficial. I think he got in a lot of trouble on race and gender issues.”
Trump needs practice
Emory professor Andra Gillespie said, “I think his campaign will try to regroup and he might practice a little bit more before the next debate as opposed to bragging about how he may not have been practicing going into the (Monday) debate.”
Silver, who runs the fivethirtyeight.com election prediction Website, wrote that the contrast between Clinton, seeking to become the country’s first female president, and Trump “might be expected to produce a swing of 2 to 4 percentage points in the horse race polls” in her favor.
Media thinks Clinton won
Another analyst, John Sides, a George Washington University political scientist, told VOA, “My initial sense is that most reporters and commentators think that Clinton outperformed Trump. Since there is evidence that any media consensus can shape how voters also perceive the debate, that suggests that Clinton is more likely to benefit than Trump.”