This week's presidential debate was a show like no other. Clinton was composed, calm, almost cocky in her extreme confidence of her debate skills. Trump was the exact opposite; uncivilized, brash, and floundering in his attempt to fit the mold of a proper debater. Lester Holt just seemed tired. The amount of informality in the debate was incredibly surprising, and I have no doubt this debate will go down in a history book somewhere. What result will be reported?
Chances are, people will look back on this and say that Hillary Clinton won. Clearly, she blew Trump completely out of the water with her refined arguments and practically perfected debate skills. Her claims were supported, for the most part, by sound evidence and she refuted his claims with ease. Trump, on the other hand, failed to behave with an ounce of formality and his arguments and evidence were disappointing at best. Had this been a graded presentation in a class, Clinton would have passed with flying colors while Trump would've scraped by with a 3% for effort.
However, this debate is a real life event with real life repercussions. Debate skills only make up half the criteria for a win - the other half is how well the candidate was received. Clinton and Trump were speaking to very difference audiences in this debate, and Trump managed to make his failure to argue into a successful connection with his main voting block. These are the kinds of people who support him because "he's not afraid to speak his mind" and "he says what needs to be said, when it needs to be said". They support him because he is uncivil, brash, and frantic. He doesn't wait to form an eloquent argument and present it in due time. He drops out his truth in the moment, even though it may not be accurate or appropriate.
Hillary, on the other hand, is on paper-thin ice. Trump's slogan of "Crooked Hillary" is reflected by many minority Democrats as well as conservative Republicans who feel as though Hillary will not represent them and that she will manipulate the presidency in an ultimately harmful manner. She needs to do everything she possibly can to convince them that she will not bend truth in order to get her point.
Yet, during this debate, she made several rash statements that fact checkers proved false, which is far more devastating to her than anything else Trump did. Being rude and incorrect is expected and even encouraged from him. It's part of his brand. But for Hillary, every slip up is a few more votes taken away because her years of political and diplomatic experience is useless in the face of a wrong fact in the eyes of many. She's a liar, proven here plain and simple, they say. She can't be trusted with the Presidency.
Though Clinton's experience clearly outweighs Trump's in every way, shape, or form; her audience is prone to be far more skeptical and nit-picky of every minuscule mistake she makes. Trump's audience thrives on him being uncivil and unprepared because it gives him a "more genuine" sense. Hillary's confidence in this debate may have been enough to convince her audience that she is trustworthy; but more likely than not Trump will receive praise for his sub-par performance, while Clinton will receive backlash for her fantastic one. Social response to this debate may very well reverse the academic analysis that Hillary was the clear winner and give Trump an advantage and even greater support from his crowd.