Wednesday night we witnessed the third and final debate of this political season. My feeling is the country has grown tired of this process that has gone on for over two years. America is counting the days until this race is over. There are many more races than just the President and Vice President to be decided on November 8th.
Coming into the debate, Hillary Clinton holds a formable lead among voters of roughly 6 percentage points in the national polls. The election though, is really fifty individual contests run by the states. That is how you can have one candidate win the popular national vote yet lose the Electoral College vote that actually elects the President and Vice President.
Clinton’s campaign has held a lead ever since the Democrat Convention in August. Donald Trump held a small lead just after the Republican Convention the week before the Democrats held their show.
Hillary Clinton has been surrounded by one scandal after another. Every day there seems to be a new scandal released to the public. She is trying to become the first former First Lady to climb to the office her husband held 16 years ago.
Donald Trump has developed a reputation of talking without thinking through his answer. His off the cuff comments have projected an image of someone who is out of control.
Both of these candidates have negative ratings on likability. This means they are both disliked by more people than like them. That will be an American first.
Hillary Clinton has to come out of this debate without doing anything that interrupts her recent favorable move in the polls. For Hillary, she has to go the 90 minutes without allowing Trump to gain any new momentum with the voters.
Donald Trump enters the debate with a deficit in the polls. His goal has to be to expand his support beyond his base to win in three weeks. Trump has to win big to “move the needle” among the undecided voters.
The Fox News anchor did a very creditable job hosting this debate. He asked the right questions to cover the positions of the candidates along with their various scandals. Chris Wallace drew praise from both sides of the isle for his fairness during the evening.
Wallace got the job to host the last debate because of the way he handled a primary debate earlier in the year. At that debate he attacked Trump viciously for not agreeing to endorse whoever the eventual nominee might be. He also attacked the New York businessman for several of his positions. These attacks made Wallace a candidate for the moderators spot. There was no way the Debate Committee was going to allow a pro Trump moderator to take part in these debates. By finding Wallace, they had a pro Trump network moderator who would not show any favoritism to the real estate magnet.
For the first time, this debate covered issues and positions as well as the scandals that plaque each of the candidates. This debate was well balanced to cover topics that were skipped in the earlier debates.
Hillary Clinton accomplished her goal of avoiding any gaffs that cost her votes. Clinton did a creditable job outlining her positions. Wallace brought up her scandals and Hillary did a successful job of avoiding the issues she didn’t want to discuss. Her pivots allowed her to go back on the attack against Trump. Hillary did seem programed like the other two debates, but at least this time more issues were covered. Hillary was forced to defend the Clinton Foundation. This is the first time the Foundation was raised as an issue in the debates.
Hillary went on the record that she is pro choice, does not believe the Second Amendment means what the courts have defined it to be, will appoint Supreme Court Justices that share her positions, is in favor of public works projects to get America working again, and free education at the college level. These projects will be paid for by increasing the taxes on the “rich.” She did not give a definition of what constitutes the “rich.” Hillary said her programs would reduce the budget deficit. Hillary is in favor of keeping the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but tweaking it to make it better.
Donald Trump constantly brought up the Clinton scandals at every opportunity. Trump declared he is pro life, and even described ripping a fetus from the womb just before birth. He supports the Second Amendment. Trump promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices that were pro Second Amendment and pro life. Trump wants our NATO partners to pay their fair share of the costs of that organization. Donald Trump proposed to rewrite some of our trading Treaties to be more fair to America.
Trump proposes sharp tax cuts to spur the economy. The increased economic activity would create increased employment. Together with the increased manufacturing caused from the new trade treaties, the economy would take off. Donald Trump would cancel the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a plan that was more cost efficient. He would keep some of the more popular parts of the ACA, and replace the rest.
Here is the bottom line. Hillary Clinton, while being exposed for the first time in a debate format had to address the Wikileaks document dumps. She handled them better than most people thought she would. Clinton did nothing that would hurt her momentum in the closing days of the campaign.
Donald Trump continued to expose the Clinton scandals. He created a clear choice with Hillary over the issues. Trump solidified his positions with his base of supporters. However, I think Trump failed to expand his base to the level needed to win the election. The polls may prove me wrong, but I do not see the additional support being created to eliminate Clintons lead. Because of that, I have to say Hillary won the debate even though I think Donald Trump had the best debate of his short political career.