Nobody wins debates

Nicholas Hunter

Last week, the first debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump took place. Since then, there has been constant debate over who “won” the debate.

A few hours after the debate, CNN displayed a poll that said 62 percent of voters who watched the debate believed Clinton won the debate, while only 27 percent believed Trump won.

Depending on where you look, polls show that it was a landslide victory for Clinton, it was too close to call or even Trump edged out Clinton overall. Talking heads on both sides are quick to point out where their candidate shone and the opposition faltered.

In reality, nobody comes out on top by the end of presidential debates. Even with many believing Clinton walked out on top after the debate, some big issues were pointed out by Trump.

In 1996, Clinton used the term “superpredators” in a speech advocating for her husband’s 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. She used the term in reference to men who were a part of gangs and drug cartels, but many believed it was a statement aimed directly at black men, in part because that act disproportionately sent black men to prisons.

When the issue of race was brought up, Trump was quick to call her out on this statement, and she offered no response.

Before Trump could bring it up, Clinton mentioned the private email server scandal on her own — calling it a mistake — and saying she takes responsibility for it. Trump did not let it go, though; initially he asserted that was not a mistake, and that it was done on purpose. He then stated that he would release his tax returns once Clinton released all of her deleted emails.

For all the missteps Clinton had through the debate, Trump made his fair share as well.

When Clinton questioned why Trump had yet to release his tax returns, she questioned whether he had paid any federal taxes over the years. Instead of trying to deny it or argue over it, Trump retorted, “It makes me smart.”

Throughout the debate, Trump was eager to cut in during Clinton’s allotted speaking time. In the end, Clinton was interrupted 51 times by Trump, compared to only 17 interruptions by Clinton.

While those numbers are unsurprising if you have seen Trump in Republican primary debates, it is hard to take Trump seriously when he accused Clinton of having a bad temperament.

Even NBC Nightly News host and debate moderator Lester Holt was hit by some after the debate, with many Trump supporters accusing Holt of going too easy on Clinton.

General election debates are vital to the public; having a chance to see how our potential leaders hold up when challenged directly by an adversary can say a lot more about a candidate than prepared statements made to the media.

But trying to claim there was a winner in this debate implies they walked away looking better than before, while what actually happened was both candidates have only seen their current issues highlighted, and now having even more questions to answer.

It is difficult to declare a winner when all that means is they have less damage control to do the next day.

Catch the vice presidential debate on Tuesday, and the next presidential debate on Sunday, both at 9 p.m. on all major news networks.