The focus groups and early polls show Clinton to be the clear winner, whereas most of those “What do you think?” online polls on various media outlets show Trump the clear winner. As for the pundits? As always, tune into the media provider that most closely reflects your political worldview and get the opinion that pleases you.
Regardless, the polls and positions about who won the debate are almost meaningless. Hillary's supporters will find reasons to believe she won, and Donald's supporters will find reasons to believe he won. The winner, if there was one, will be the one who coaxed undecided voters into their tent. My guess is that this is more crucial to Hillary, because there are a lot of Donald supporters who are saying "undecided" when asked, owing to the negative social stigma attached to publicly supporting Donald—
Donald's performance last night—the inability to string together sentences that flowed from one thought to the next, the failure to finish most sentences, the rambling, the constant interruptions, the incomprehensible word salads, the multiple disconnects from reality, the tic-like gesticulating—
Verbatim example: “Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?… I have a much better — she spent — let me tell you — she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising — you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room, they put names — oh, temperament, let’s go after — I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not have a… Wait. The AFL-CIO the other day, behind the blue screen, I don’t know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you were totally out of control. I said, there’s a person with a temperament that’s got a problem.”
Before we all became enlightened, Donald's
As for Hillary, she was Hillary. At her best, she let Donald take enough rope to hang himself, and at a few points put him on his heels with some stiff jabs and a couple of solid uppercuts (e.g., the "What's he hiding?" bit regarding his tax returns—laundry-listing the things that he actually could be hiding—and the pandering-to-racists accusation about being a long-term birther). She appeared far better equipped than Donald to handle a bully like Putin. At worst, as R.V. correctly observed, she went into robot-Hillary mode a few times and stiffly recited canned material.
Hillary's not much for vision, but what vision she has is plain-spoken and clear-eyed, if largely borrowed from hubby Bill: It's the middle class, stupid. To their credit, both candidates were very clear on their respective economic visions. For Hillary, the middle class is America's economic engine, and that's what needs nurturing. For Donald, it's rich guys like him—job creators—who need the nurturing.
Hillary also laid out the high points of a plan pursuant to her economic vision, which is in part lifted from Crazy Uncle Bernie: Tax increases for the rich. Tax incentives for work, not for financial transactions. Invest in 21st-century technology jobs. Subsidize higher education tuition. Fix trade, don't shun it. No more running up the nation's credit cards so that the 1% doesn't have to pay taxes. Trickle down on me once, shame on you. Trickle down on me twice…