Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Trump lost the debate but will it win him votes?


My Facebook friend, Peter Risdon, a classical 19th century liberal, has saved me the trouble of blogging about the US Presidential debate by letting me borrow his Facebook status. I cannot comment on his first paragraph, as I did not see the debates in full, but I agree with the rest.

I watched some of the Presidential debate; Trump was terrible. Even in the first part when he scored positively on immediate polling, he was awful.
I thought the moderator was somewhat unfair - the first portion was supposed to be two statements, two responses then open discussion, but it was two statements, Clinton's response then the moderator challenging Trump. But it didn't affect the outcome, Trump was awful anyway, and he went downhill from there.
So how on earth are people scoring Trump the winner? Most online polls did that, lots of anecdotal pieces in the media today show reaction in his favour, in bars and elsewhere. Not all reports show this, but a fair number do, from all sides (The Guardian has a piece showing undecideds saying "He was terrible, she was good, I can't decide between them").
The first possibility is, they're not, this is an inaccurate representation of reaction and Trump will be hit badly by this as polling continues over the next few weeks. That's the possibility that feels the most sensible.
The other is, they are accurate, and people are scoring Trump higher than his debating performance justified. I can only see that being because they agree with him, though he put his case badly.
And the other contribution to his polling is his work on the ground. His deficit in Michigan has halved since he went to that church in Detroit. That might count for more than his debating ability.
If Trump doesn't bomb as a result of this debate (and obviously he could and should) it can only mean he's a very, very imperfect messenger for ideas people are willing to support despite his personal qualities, including his debating.
So the polling now might cast some light on that aspect of this campaign.
Peter does not particularly like Donald Trump - who does? - but thinks, like I do, that something good might come out of the chaos his winning would create. Peter is an intelligent man. He wisely says
And the worst of it is, those heartless bastards who don't pretend to care about poor people do more for poor people than the Clintons of this world. It means more for NY city's murder rate to fall from 2,500 a year to under 500, if you're a poor New Yorker, than for Clinton to announce some pork barrel scheme for her donors that's ostensibly designed to help the less well-off.
I didn't watch the debate. Trump seemed subdued but fine in the several clips I saw but I had expected him to demolish his opponent and instead she probably did better. It's partly because it is hard for a man to attack a woman as aggressively as Mr Trump attacked male opponents in the primaries. 

She was, as always, very boring. Her glassy smile was curiously creepy, I thought, and she looked old. She was smug and clearly does not like being in public. She is an introvert, who does not like people.

But why were there no questions on the wall or the Clinton Foundation? Who cares about the birther froth?

It is obvious that Trump is a sort of genius. Not a first class mind, as we Cambridge men say, of course - nor was Napoleon. 

Businessmen don't usually make good politicians. Berlusconi had his pluses and minuses. Joe Chamberlain is the great exception - I can't think of others. 

On the other hand, a businessmen is better suited to assuming power in a country with a presidential system than a parliamentary one.

Scott Adams, the Dilbert man and the person who gets Mr Trump best, thinks this.
By tomorrow, no one will remember what either of them said during the debate. But we will remember how they made us feel.Clinton won the debate last night. And while she was doing it, Trump won the election. He had one thing to accomplish – being less scary – and he did it.


  1. As the Donald said, without much exaggeration, he could shoot somebody and not lose votes...

  2. I remember my first presidential election that I could vote.
    1980. I was 20 yo (*sigh*). I hated (and still do...) that peanut farmer. The hostage crisis, sov's in Afghanistan. And, especially his demeanor and lecturing us to turn down our thermostats and wear a sweater to save during the ahem... energy crisis.

    I didn't know much about Reagan. I heard folks say if he got elected he'd have us in a nuclear war with the Sov's inside a week. I didn't really care. another 4 years of Carter I just couldn't countenance.

    "a classical 19th century liberal" what does that mean?

    1. It means beleiving in freedom and small government. All Americans, apart from the fascists, socialists and communists are liberals. America is how the more extreme 19th century classical liberals wanted Europe to be - no monarchy, no peerage, no established church,low taxes, idealistic foreign policy.

    2. I, a British Conservative, backed Carter, partly misled by BBC. Reagan was considered an extremist as was Mrs. Thatcher.

  3. Oh, so Trump is restrained in dealing with a woman? He interrupted Mrs Clinton constantly. He looked fat, slitty-eyed, tense, and without an ounce of humor. She looked as though she were rather enjoying herself. Donald boasted about stiffing people who work for him because it makes him and his family rich -- mafia mentality. The next day he had the nerve to blame the microphone on his rotten performance.
    Online polls can be stacked by trolls. This debate was a disaster for #deadbeatdonald. He knows it and his family does too -- they looked shocked and depressed in the aftermath.

  4. Interruption is normal, I am told, in New York. Even talking about violence freely is according to Scott Adams.

  5. What a clever remark. I live in New York and I would never talk over or interrupt someone 50 times on live TV and neither would anyone I know. Clearly you have never been here.

  6. One only interrupts family. But they love each other so it's ok.