Elections

Presidential debate: Clinton takes round one

Welcome to McClatchy’s Voter Survival Guide, an interactive presentation of daily events from one of the strangest presidential campaigns in modern history.

Millions watched, Tweeted and reacted to the first presidential debate, a political spectacle that captured the attention of the nation.

Hillary Clinton stayed calm and largely controlled the debate. She attacked Donald Trump for his father loaning him millions and repeatedly went after his financial record, including failing to release tax returns and failed business ventures.

Trump had a good first 15 minutes, he attacked Clinton on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But Clinton clearly got under his skin by the end of the debate, as Trump referred to her as “Hillary” instead of “Secretary Clinton.”

The next few days will be dominated by a variety of angles and analysis of Monday’s debate. Vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence will debate next Tuesday.

The polls open nationally in 41 days. Let’s get started.

Trump remains Trump, but Clinton doesn’t take the bait

All that debate prep seemed to pay off. Clinton appeared in control throughout the debate. Donald Trump appeared defensive and often interupted both Clinton and moderator Lester Holt. In fact, the more Trump attacked, the more she smiled.

Undecided voters went for Clinton

Both Trump and Clinton had their positive moments, Trump was able to talk about trade while Clinton successfully deflected Trump’s questions on her trustworthiness.

But the majority of pundits declared Clinton the winner, although it was far from a knockout blow.

Conservative pollster Frank Luntz said Clinton won the debate among his focus group.

Holt stays out of the way

Lester Holt didn’t intervene much. He let Trump and Clinton go after each other, and it led to decent policy exchanges and lots of interruptions for Trump.

But Holt pushed back on one issue—Trump’s stance on the Iraq War. He repeatedly attempted to cut off Trump by saying he supported the war.

“I did not support the war in Iraq,” Trump said. “That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she—frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.”

Trump cites McClatchy on birther conspiracy

Trump cited our story in accusing a Hillary Clinton ally of pushing the birther conspiracy he later championed.

Here are the facts.

How many watched?

The numbers haven’t been crunched yet, but it’s estimated that at least 100 million viewers tuned in between social media, digital and broadcast outlets.

About one in 10 voters were open to changing their vote based on what they hear at the debate, according to analysis by Deep Root Analytics, a Virginia-based media analytics company. That’s more than enough to move the needle in certain battleground states.

The group’s debate viewership survey of 869 registered voters on September 19 and 20 found that Monday’s debate will draw nearly two-thirds of registered voters and Trump supporters are more likely to watch the debate.

Links of note

Trump cites McClatchy in accusing Clinton of birther conspiracy but here are the facts (McClatchy)

First presidential debate highlights (McClatchy)

Trump interrupted Clinton frequently (Vox)

Trump, Clinton clash at fiery first debate (Fox News)

Debate transcript, annotated (Washington Post)

Have a question about the candidates, the campaign, the process, the election itself? Ask us here.

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty

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