The second US Presidential debate was held on Sunday 9th October 2016. Far more brutal than the first debate, this event saw Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump engage in a war of words which is sure to have a resounding impact on American politics for years to come. So who won the second US Presidential debate?
Heating up fast
By common consensus, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the first Presidential debate of 2016. Her rival, billionaire Donald Trump, did get a few jabs in, criticising Hillary on issues such as her support for free trade agreements. But Hillary struck a series of resounding blows, haranguing Donald on everything from his controversial statements on women, to his refusal to release his tax returns, inferring that he has something to hide.
In the aftermath, public support for Hillary grew. According to the Huffington Post, Hillary’s lead over Donald expanded by several points. Trump’s problems were compounded by the release of a video, which showed him making controversial statements about women, suggesting that they are sexual objects. After, a variety of prominent Republicans, like former GOP Presidential candidate John McCain, rescinded support for Trump.
The debate took a town hall format, with attendees directly questioning both candidates in the second half. Most of the drama revolved around Trump’s groping video, along with the controversial ‘apology’ clip he issued later, where he criticised Bill Clinton’s alleged past sexual indiscretions. Trump went nuclear, inviting four women who have accused Bill of promiscuity and sexual crimes in the past, to attend the debate as his guests.
The BBC reports that Donald started by repeating his earlier apology, before saying of Bill Clinton, “There’s never been anybody in the history of politics that has been so abusive to women,” Hillary refused to address these comments and Trump’s attacks only grew more ferocious. At one point, Clinton said that in the tape, Trump “showed exactly who he is,” adding that “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.” Donald said this was “because you’d be in jail.”
Once again, the debate revolved around the issue of temperament, but there were several key policy issues raised. During the event, Donald explained why he hasn’t paid federal income tax in 18 years, aiming to cement his reputation as a good business man and Hillary defended comments she made during a speech that were leaked recently, concerning her support for free trade and willingness to let Wall Street have a say in reforming the US’ finance sector. A key question came from the audience, when one person asked about the candidates’ positions on environmental issues, with both pretty much giving the stock responses expected for the leaders of their respective parties.
US media reacted largely by deeming Hillary the winner. But as the Washington Post pointed out, the bar set really low for Mrs Clinton considering the recent downfall of Donald Trump, so all she had to do was “remain upright for 90 minutes,” to emerge triumphant. However, right wing news outlet Breitbart crowned Trump the winner, saying he “pounded” Clinton and other columnists admitted he “exceeded expectations.”
But what did the average voter think. The Independent writes that they largely handed the victory to Hillary. In a CNN poll, Clinton emerged victorious by 57% to 34%, while in a YouGov survey, she beat Trump 47% to 42%, mirroring national poll numbers. Critically in the latter poll, of those who were previously undecided on who to vote for, Hillary narrowly eclipsed Donald by 44% to 41%, suggesting that she’s gradually drawing support.
Officially in free fall
With a month to go until election day, Donald Trump’s campaign has gone into free fall. His controversial statements on women alienated key supporters. Even Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan is now sort of saying he can’t back Donald, even though he is the highest ranking elected Republican. Hillary narrowly won the debate but does it even matter, with Donald going into self destruct mode? With the final debate due to be held 19th October, is there anything Trump can do to get himself back into the race?