1 Clinton reversed a bad news cycle to resume pole position
Heading into Monday’s opening debate, Hillary Clinton backers had plenty to worry about. A combination of health concerns, intense scrutiny of her e-mails and foundation, plus some improved performances from Donald Trump had whittled down a substantial poll lead to a virtual dead-heat.
Her Betfair rating had fallen from 80% to 64%, with Trump hitting his shortest odds yet at 2.68 after some very promising numbers in swing states. Yet almost from the moment proceedings at Hofstra University begun, money poured back in for Clinton. 95 minutes later, she was back to 1.45 (69%), around the same odds as before a health scare at a 9/11 memorial and admission she was suffering from pneumonia.
By winning the debate – by almost unanimous consensus besides die-hard Trump supporters – Clinton has reversed the narrative. Rather than being at death’s door – as so many internet rumours had claimed – she looked strong and confident throughout. Instead it was Trump who tired, with his performance deteriorating as time progressed.
In doing so, the narrative has switched back from whether she is fit to be president to what most voters regard as dubious credentials of her opponent. Whilst we await the polling fallout, it seems likely that at least some of that lead will be restored.
2 Trump flunked his best and perhaps last opportunity to reset a negative image
As noted beforehand, the biggest challenge for Trump was to reverse the widely-held perception that he was unqualified and lacked the temperament to be president. Again, we await updated polling evidence but it seems highly unlikely that he even begun to pass that test. Quite the reverse. When he boasted ‘I have a great temperament’, Clinton’s laugh said it all.