Thursday, October 20, 2016

Then vs. Now

Both conventional wisdom and post-debate polls say that Trump won every debate he participated in during the Republican primary but lost every debate in the general election. Is that more a commentary of who the audience was for each debate (i.e. "winning" in the primary means appealing to the GOP base whereas "winning" in the general means appealing to the whole electorate), Trump's primary opponents (including alleged debate master Ted Cruz), or Hillary Clinton's skills as a debater?

Before you say "all three", of course it's all three to some extent. But is there one reason that predominates? As I have said before, I usually don't buy the idea of a winner or loser in debates. There is no clear measure to determine a winner and so for most debates partisans on each side claim their person won and the actual winner is not universally acknowledged. But according to clear majority Clinton creamed Trump in all three debates. Trump was terrible on both a stylistic and substantive level in each one. Why did the guy who was such an unstoppable force against Republicans come across so abysmally against Clinton? The same shtick that dispatched primary opponent after primary opponent fell completely flat against Clinton, at least to anyone who wasn't deep inside the Trump-tank.