Debate Scorecard

Points for trump:

Mention of NATO (some countries not contributing enough)
Attacked Hillary on NAFTA, trade deals
Articulated his economic plans well
Attacked Hillary’s use of a private email server
Attacked Hillary on Iran deal
Hillary’s failure on ISIS

Points for Hillary:

Donald Trump’s taxes
Birth certificate and Trump’s comments on women (only because the moderator brought it up)
Trump possible flip-flopping on Iraq War support/denial (again, thanks to the moderator intervening on behalf of Clinton)

The rest of the issues such as stop and frisk and cyber security seemed insignificant and didn’t move the needle and will be forgotten quickly.

The moderator, Lester Holt, was unfailingly biased, pressing Trump on the birth certificate issue, taxes, and supposed sexism, but failing to press Hillary on Benghazi or the email server. Trump is justified to complain on Twitter about the lack of impartiality shown by the moderator.

Here are some examples of Holt’s bias, asking loaded questions (in which Trump’s guilt is presumed):

HOLT: Mr. Trump, we’re talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns. And the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so that voters will know if their potential president owes money to — who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?

HOLT: Mr. Trump, this year Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major party. Earlier this month, you said she doesn’t have, quote, “a presidential look.” She’s standing here right now. What did you mean by that?

HOLT: Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: The president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?

And about Trump’s purported support of the Iraq War:

HOLT: Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your…

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.

HOLT: In 2002…

TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she — frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

HOLT: My question is, since you supported it…

TRUMP: Just — would you like to hear…

HOLT: … why is your — why is your judgment…

TRUMP: Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.

Note how Hillary is absent here. It’s like a tag team match and Hillary is outside of the ring, having tapped Holt, who is fighting on her behalf.


Overall, Trump scored more points, but it was closer than I expected, probably because it was a 2 on 1 debate (with help from the moderator). When Obama first debated Romney, it was so obvious Obama lost that even the liberal media said so unanimously, but it wasn’t nearly as obvious who won this debate. Despite concerns over Hillary’s health, she seemed healthy enough.

These debates aren’t as important as the media hype would suggest, and outcomes don’t change many minds. Despite Romney trouncing Obama in the first debate (and all the media coverage that followed), Romney still lost by a large margin. By my estimate, 85-95% of people have probably already decided who they are going to vote for.

Maybe we can apply the ‘Drake Equation’ to the debate viewership:

What percent of viewers care enough about the issues to be influenced by the debate; of those, how many live in a swing state; and of those, how many are still undecided.

Out of seventy million viewers, maybe that’s only a few tens of thousands of people, at most.