It was, says Politico, "the ugliest debate in American history." But who actually won the insult-filled affair? Some assessments:
- Chris Cillizza, Washington Post: He's got Clinton in his "winners" category because "she went into this debate with massive momentum in the race—much of it caused by Trump's stumbles—and didn't make any sort of glaring error that would allow the Republican back into the contest." Trump, meanwhile, "was much more solid and energetic in this debate than in the previous tilt." But he lost because while he pleased his base, "we know from polling that his base isn't nearly large enough to win an election."
- Andrew Sullivan, New York: "I’m horrified to say that Trump will survive this, even though he absolutely shouldn’t. I suspect this performance will prevent a total meltdown in his campaign. His Breitbart-style attacks on Clinton will have riled up his base. Her defensive rebuttals were not crude enough to hit home. ... He may still win this election."
- Guy Benson, Townhall: “He improved, exceeded expectations, decisively won several exchanges. She could have landed a death blow tonight and did not."
- Anthony Zurcher, BBC: Clinton "has to view this as an opportunity missed. Her supporters were hoping for a political kill shot that would push Mr Trump's remaining supporters toward the exit and turn the last month of the campaign into a glorified mop-up operation," but it never arrived.
- Van Jones, CNN (via Mediaite): He thinks Trump won the debate but views that as a larger win for Clinton. "The worst possible outcome for Hillary Clinton would have been if she had knocked him out. If she had knocked him out and forced him out of the race, the Republican Party could rally and get somebody else in there."
- Alexander Burns, New York Times: Clinton survived the "nuclear attack" of the assault against her husband. And "if Mr. Trump steadied himself as the night went on, he never showed a side of himself that might surprise voters and transform their overwhelmingly negative views of him."
- San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board: "Trump not only seemed to slow the bleeding, he might have stopped it. ... Will this stem GOP defections? Maybe. Will this win over voters concerned about his temperament and suitability as commander-in-chief? Maybe not."
- This Muslim American Life author Moustafa Bayoumi: "I'm a Muslim, and I would like to report a crazy man threatening a woman on a stage in Missouri."
- A YouGov poll done in the immediate aftermath had Clinton winning 47% to 42%.
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