For Donald Trump, last night’s first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University, Long Island was an unmitigated disaster that may mark the beginning of the demise of his campaign.
The only way Donald Trump can win this election is to improve his showing among white college educated women. His performance last night, distinguished by his sexism and rudeness, severely damaged him with that demographic.
And he destroyed his own credibility overall on two issues: 1) His claims that Hillary lacked stamina, when he was the candidate wheezing at the end of the debate; and 2) His assertion that he has the better temperament, after he spent an entire hour on the debate stage ranting and raving like a lunatic.
Trump was defined last night, both by Hillary AND by his own debate behavior, as an out-of-control rude sexist lacking the proper stamina and temperament for the job. This indelible definition of Trump will not be reflected by an immediate sharp rise for Hillary in the polls, although she will get a bump up nationally of around two percent in the next week. By the last week of the campaign, however, this definition will have taken its toll of Trump, as the undecided women break overwhelmingly for Hillary and Gary Johnson supporters defect to her in large numbers.
In addition, Trump’s support of stop-and-frisk will greatly enhance Hillary Clinton’s get-out-the-vote efforts in the African-American and Hispanic communities. Stop-and-frisk has been proven to be a most ineffective measure in preventing crime, and it is perceived by African-American and Hispanic citizens to be a major infringement of their civil liberties. Trump’s advocacy of stop- and frisk is a major gift to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Barring a major unforeseen event or revelation, Trump’s disaster at Hofstra marks an irrevocable turning point in the campaign, vastly increasing the likelihood of Hillary Clinton taking the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, January 20, 2017.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman.