Clinton “Won” the First Debate, but Trump won the Election

Clinton “Won” the First Debate, but Trump won the Election, by Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert cartoon.

Clinton won on points. She had more command of the details and the cleaner answers. Trump did a lot of interrupting and he was defensive. If this were a college debate competition, Clinton would be declared the winner. …  But voters don’t care about facts and debating style. They care about how they feel. …

For starters, Trump and Clinton both seemed “presidential” enough. … So Trump passed that test by being sufficiently serious. …

Clinton looked (to my eyes) as if she was drugged, tired, sick, or generally unhealthy, even though she was mentally alert and spoke well. But her eyes were telling a different story. She had the look of someone whose doctors had engineered 90 minutes of alertness for her just for the event. …

Clinton’s smile seemed forced, artificial, and frankly creepy.  … My neighbor Kristina hypothesized that Botox was making her smile look unnatural. …

Trump “won” by losing on points.

But the most interesting question has to do with what problem both of them were trying to solve with the debate. Clinton tried to look healthy, and as I mentioned, I don’t think she completely succeeded. But Trump needed to solve exactly one problem: Look less scary. Trump needed to counter Clinton’s successful branding of him as having a bad temperament to the point of being dangerous to the country. Trump accomplished exactly that…by…losing the debate.

Trump was defensive, and debated poorly at points, but he did not look crazy. And pundits noticed that he intentionally avoided using his strongest attacks regarding Bill Clinton’s scandals. In other words, he showed control. He stayed in the presidential zone under pressure. And in so doing, he solved for his only remaining problem. He looked safer.

By tomorrow, no one will remember what either of them said during the debate. But we will remember how they made us feel.

Clinton won the debate last night. And while she was doing it, Trump won the election. He had one thing to accomplish – being less scary – and he did it.

UPDATE: Newt Gingrich tweets: “This was a very big win for him… The entire Clinton case that he is incapable of being president died somewhere on that stage.”

UPDATE: Michael Moore appeared frustrated on Twitter following the presidential debate, saying Donald Trump “won” and “we all lost.” The 62-year-old filmmaker warned “pro-Hillary gloaters” against celebrating over how Hillary Clinton did in the debate against the Republican nominee and insisted nothing she did changed things.

A highight reel:

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon:

[M]oderator Lester Holt asked no questions about Hillary’s emails, Benghazi, or the Clinton Foundation. That’s what the mainstream media are paid for — to be silent and practice omertà concerning anything embarrassing to Democrats. (Ironically, this leaves a big opening for one person — Julian Assange. And don’t think he doesn’t know it.)

What did surprise me is that Trump barely brought much of this up himself. He had a huge opportunity when the subject of cyber security came up but didn’t take it. Was this deliberate or an oversight?  If the former,  and I suspect it largely is, it’s a clever strategy. Everyone knows about Hillary’s email/Foundation veracity issues. Trump didn’t have to make a big deal about them, especially if his goal was to appear presidential, to not seem crazy or mean to those few remaining independent voters who are not attracted to Hillary but want to be reassured about Trump. …

Trump concentrated his fire on Hilary actually having done nothing of substance in her 30 (later corrected to 26) years of public service — just talk talk talk. That approach may ultimately prove more lethal than the more obvious “Crooked Hillary.” I wonder if it was poll-tested. …

But before I sign off, I have to comment on what I think was the most significant moment of the debate and it came at the end. Hillary had just gone after Donald on the sexism issue — the beauty contest nonsense, etc. — and it seemed for a moment that Trump was going to come back at her on her dreadful family life the whole world knows about.  But then he stopped himself.  He didn’t turn into the mean Donald and turn off a whole bunch of people.

On Fox, immediately after the debate, Trump explained his decision to Sean Hannity. The candidate saw Chelsea in the audience and decided it was the wrong thing to do. Well done, Donald.  This is the moment that may resonate in the weeks to come.