Before we get into a wrap-up of the first presidential debate, we wanted to highlight two Senate races in two key states that are crucial for either candidate to win the White House and the unusual interplay between the top of the ticket and the Senate race.
First, in New Hampshire, Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who has the support of HUPAC, is in one of the toughest re-election battles in the country. Ayotte faces off against Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan and has to contend with the unpopularity of Republican nominee Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. Currently, according to the Real Clear Politics average, Ayotte is polling 2.5 points ahead of Hassan even though Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is ahead of Donald Trump by 5.4 points in the Granite state. This means that a significant number of voters could potentially ticket split, which means they intend to vote for candidates from different parties for different offices, something that is increasingly rare. This race is currently rated as a tossup.
Over in Pennsylvania, a similar dynamic is taking place where Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who also has the support of HUPAC, is seeking a second term in the Senate versus Democratic nominee Katie McGinty. Toomey is currently behind McGinty by 1 point, while Clinton is ahead of Trump by 2 points. At the moment, the race has tighten in Pennsylvania, but, just a couple a weeks ago, Clinton was up by 5-6 points while Toomey continued to outperform Trump in the state, although the margin has closed. At this point, if the Republican Party wants to keep control of the Senate, these two seats are must wins for them. It remains to be seen how many voters will ticket split, a voting habit that has been in a long-time decline, but with an unorthodox candidate like Trump on top of the ticket, he may reverse the trend.
The two presidential candidates faced off on Monday for the first of three debates and the consensus was that Clinton bested Trump in front of over 80 million Americans who tuned in for the debate, a record for residential debates. While Trump started off composed and restrained for the first 20 minutes, he quickly lost his cool as the debate wore on as Clinton was able to get under his skin as he chomped at the bait she threw. Clinton brought up his wealth, businesses, taxes and questioned his knowledge on foreign affairs, each time with Trump taking the bait. In a baffling sequence where Trump could have continued his line of attack on Clinton and her email scandal, he went back to the taxes argument and appeared to confirm that he has not paid any federal taxes in years. For most of the debate Trump repeated himself and ignored to answer many of the questions posed.
Clinton started off the debate a bit robotic, but quickly gained her footing and seemed to be in command once Trump started losing his composure. In fact, she seemed more in control as Trump continued to interrupt her during her speaking time. Trump interrupted Clinton a total of 51 times during the 90-minute debate compared to Clinton's 17 times. In all, Clinton seemed to be well prepared for Trump's tactics and came in with lines to bait him to throw him off his game plan of appearing presidential. Clinton probably had the line of the night when Trump questioned her stamina and taking time off to prepare for the debates, “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate,” Clinton said. “And yes I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”
Most neutral observers of the debate would probably concede that Clinton had the better night and the scientific polls and focus groups conducted after the debate confirm that idea. A CNN poll found that 62% thought Clinton had won to Trump's 27%, a Public Policy Poll found that 51% thought Clinton won and 40% thought Trump won and a Morning Consult poll found that 49% of likely voters thought she won to the 26% that thought Trump won. A focus group in the swing state of Florida of undecided voters found 18 of 20 thought Clinton had won and a focus group in Pennsylvania found that 16 of 22 thought Clinton had won.
How will her debate performance affect her standing in the polls? If history is any suggestion, somewhere between 2 to 4 points can be expected. The CNN poll that was conducted has accurately gauged the winner of the debate, which was then preceded by a bump in the polls when one considers the margin of victory. For instance in 2012, the CNN poll showed a 42 point victory for Romney after his first debate and he gained 4.4 point in the polls, though he eventually lost most of those gains. In 1992, Bill Clinton saw the polls swing 4.1 points in his favor after Clinton's dominate performance in the second debate that year. Even just a 2 point swing in Clinton's favor would do wonders for her standing in the national polls as she is about 2 points up on Trump.
The next debate is the vice presidential debate where Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) will face off against Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Tuesday, October 4, from Longwood University in Virginia. The debate will be moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News.
Did you Know?
HUPAC had a success rate of 91% in backing candidates that won their race in 2014. That means your dollars are not going to waste and we carefully consider where your dollars go before supporting a certain candidate. Of course, elections are unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed, but we focus on those candidates who have the best chance of winning and those that support the role of agents, brokers, and benefit specialists in our healthcare system. Knowing that your contributions are not going to waste, are you ready to re-up your contribution? Or become a new contributor? Click here today to contribute to YOUR political action committee.