Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has had probably the most acute analysis on this strange campaign this year. Here is his take on the debate:
I just watched the debate on replay. Trump won bigly. This one wasn’t close. And keep in mind that I called Clinton the winner of the first debate, and I now endorse Gary Johnson, primarily to avoid being called an alleged enabler of alleged sex abusers and their alleged enablers. That basket of deplorables includes both Bill and Hillary Clinton (the alleged doer and the alleged cleaner-upper) plus Trump and his alleged misdeeds.
Some quick reactions…
1. When the Access Hollywood tape came up, Trump dismissed it as locker room banter that he regrets. You expected that part. The persuasion move was that he quickly contrasted that “small” issue with images of ISIS beheadings, and cage-drownings. It was a high ground maneuver, a powerful visual anchor (like the Rosie O’Donnell move from his first primary debate), and a contrast play. In this framing, Trump cares about saving your life while Clinton cares about your choice of words. I realize the issue is Trump’s alleged deeds, not his words. But in terms of debate persuasion, Trump nailed it hard.
2. Clinton’s body language was defensive. Trump is physically larger and prowled the stage. He won the optics. It only got worse when a fly landed on Clinton’s face mid-answer. Both candidates looked perfect in terms of wardrobe and hair, given what they have to work with.
3. Trump threw in enough random details about Syria to persuade viewers that he knows more than they thought he knew. And he did a great job selling the idea that he knows more than the generals (as ridiculous as that sounds), at least in terms of not announcing where we plan to attack. I agree with the moderator who said there might be good reasons for announcing attacks – such as giving time for civilians to leave – but it wasn’t quite a counter-argument. Trump succeeded in looking informed on Syria, and at the same time reinforced the “can’t keep a secret” theme for Clinton.
4. Trump’s pre-debate show with Bill’s alleged victims dismantled Clinton’s pro-woman high ground before the debate even started. I didn’t see the pre-debate show, but I assume it was impactful. It had to be. Clinton looked shaken from the start.
5. The best quotable moments from the debate are pro-Trump. His comment about putting Clinton in jail has that marvelous visual persuasion quality about it, and it was the laugh of the night, which means it will be repeated endlessly. He also looked like he meant it.
Clinton’s Abe Lincoln defense for two-faced politicking failed as hard as anything can fail. Mrs. Clinton, I knew Abe Lincoln, and you’re no Abe Lincoln. You know that was in your head. Or it will be.
6. Most of the rest was policy stuff that no one understands or cares about. We don’t know how to fix Obamacare or what to do with TPP. But by acting competent on these and other policy issues, Trump gains more than Clinton in persuasion.
7. Trump attacked Clinton on emails, and did a good job. His base needed that.
8. Clinton had to defend her “deplorables” comment. She said she regretted it. Regret isn’t what the public wanted to hear. That’s about her. They wanted to hear that she doesn’t think that way. She failed to address the emotional part of that topic, and that’s a persuasion fail.
Go here to read the rest. A political campaign is essentially a task of persuasion. Trump remembered that last night, and Clinton, who came in cocky and overconfident, forgot that.