An Analysis: The Second Presidential Debate

Written by Steven Spear, Jr.


Not much changed after the first presidential debate and the vice presidential debate. Clinton and Trump supporters were still supporting their candidate, and—more importantly—undecided voters were likely still undecided. Going into Sunday night, Clinton needed to put pressure on the details and feasibility of his policies, and Trump needed to remain calm while being attacked, stick to his talking points, and attack Clinton’s trustworthiness.


The Candidates’ Performances

For Clinton: This debate was town hall style, and audience members have the opportunity to ask questions. This debate style gives the candidates a chance to show that they can directly connect with the people and their concerns. As expected, Hillary Clinton could not deliver. Instead of listing Trump’s character flaws, she said, “We know who Trump is and what he stands for.” I thank you Hillary. I hear enough about Trump from your constant ads. Clinton focused more on policy: She went through her 5-point plan for improving the economy and other multi-point plans for improving healthcare and the criminal justice system.


For Trump: A couple of days before Sunday’s debate, a 2005 video of Donald Trump surfaced with him saying that he had grabbed a woman by her genitals. Trump dismissed this comment as “locker room talk,” and denied actually doing it. To his credit, this video and subsequent public outcry, Trump’s debate performance was not impacted: in fact, he trumped his performance in the first debate. Along with interrupting Clinton and talking over the moderators, he continually complained about the seemingly uneven distribution of speaking time and made several unnecessarily hateful comments that were immature and unworthy of a presidential candidate.


Who was the winner?

There was no winner. This debate was a tie. In the strange race that is the 2016 Presidential Election, Trump cannot afford a tie. Most polls show him close to Clinton but unable to overtake her. In order to win, he must have a perfect performance in the debates and as he campaigns in the last 4 weeks.

The real losers are the American people. Out choices are a man who makes the most hateful, disgusting comments and a woman who says one thing in private and another in public. I encourage you to not vote against one candidate or another but to vote for a candidate that you can believe in.


Highlights of the Night:

The candidates did not attempt to shake hands at the beginning of the debate

Trump: “She has tremendous hatred in her heart.”

Clinton: “I’m glad Donald is not in charge of the laws of this country.” “Because you’d be in jail,” Trump quipped. Trump subsequently said that he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s e-mail scandal at the State Department.

Bob Schieffer (CBS journalist), “I have never seen a campaign like this one, and I hope I never see another one like it. This is disgraceful.”


What happens next?

The third presidential debate (sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates) is Wednesday, October 19th at 9pm.

A (potential) fourth presidential debate is Tuesday, October 25th. Along with Clinton and Trump, this debate would include Gary Johnson, from the Libertarian Party, and Jill Stein, from the Green Party.


Clinton’s performance was expectedly lackluster, and I do not have much hope for a change in the third debate. Trump’s performance excited his main base of support but did nothing to attract hesitant Republicans and undecided independents. This debate may have pushed some voters to support Clinton, but there is still a sizable minority of voters who remain undecided. With twenty-five days until the election, Clinton and Trump will be desperately vying for the undecided vote.


Click here for my analysis of the first presidential debate.



  1. […] To see my analysis of the 2nd debate, click here […]


  2. I would love to see the “potential” 4th debate. Great debate recap.

    Liked by 1 person

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