THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Fransi Weinstein Headshot

Did The Presidential Debates Change Anyone's Mind? Probably Not

Posted: Updated:
DONALD TRUMP HILLARY CLINTON
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images
Print

Last Friday, HuffPost published my piece on the debates. Judging from the comments I got, I didn't make the point I really wanted to make. Hey, it happens.

This is probably highly unusual, but I've decided to try again.

But first, to be clear, this is not an attempt to get you to agree with me, or to have the last word. I love it when readers take the time to comment and you share your opinions and feelings with me, and each other. When we all get a chance to weigh in. For me that's the whole point of blogging -- to have discussions. Otherwise I'd just be talking to myself, and what fun is that.

My reason is simply this: I'm a communicator. And if I failed to communicate then I want to take another stab at it.

Here goes ...

Donald Trump revealed himself, and the platform he'd be running on, in the statement he made when he announced his candidacy, in what feels like a lifetime ago. The theme has remained constant throughout the 16 months of the presidential race, at his rallies, at his press conferences, in his interviews, at the 12 debates during the primary and yet again at the three presidential debates. Not to mention all the times it's been regurgitated by his surrogates.

After all this time, and all that exposure, he's never explained how he'll get any of his proposed initiatives accomplished. He hasn't even been clear about what those initiatives are.

Nothing's changed.

After all this time, and all that exposure, he's never explained how he'll get any of his proposed initiatives accomplished. He hasn't even been clear about what those initiatives are.

What has come through loud and clear since the beginning, is that he's deranged, incompetent and dangerous -- and there's a frighteningly large number of Americans who love him for it.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has been very clear since day one. She has cohesively outlined her policies and provided a decent amount of detail. She has been consistent on the campaign trail, at rallies, in interviews, at the five debates and one town hall during the primary and whenever she wasn't interrupted by Donald Trump at the three presidential debates.

Basically, the issues she's passionate about today are issues she's been passionate about throughout her career -- as a lawyer, as a senator from New York, as the Secretary of State, as Bill Clinton's wife when he was Governor of Arkansas, as Bill Clinton's wife during the eight years he was President of the United States.

Again, not much has changed.

We've known for a long time what she stands for and what she wants to do for the American people.

And what has come through, loud and clear, is that there has probably never been a presidential candidate with more experience or one who is better prepared. And we also know that, despite her obvious qualifications, there are a fairly significant number of Americans who neither like or trust her, primarily because of some regrettable decisions she's made over the course of her career.

Which is why I believe that the debates have been ineffective... they weren't all "necessary." Because we really haven't learned anything "new" or "different." Enough to change enough minds.

Which is why I believe that the debates have been ineffective. Maybe "ineffective" isn't the right word. Maybe what I mean is, they weren't all "necessary." Because we really haven't learned anything "new" or "different." Enough to change enough minds.

Here's what disturbs me the most, particularly when it comes to the presidential debates ...

The debates have given Donald Trump yet more free airtime. More opportunities to shout down the moderators and take control of the mic. More opportunities to interrupt his opponent and fill her allotted speaking time with his messages of fear, hatred, violence, bigotry and largely libelous lies -- and to deliver that message to an enormous number of viewers.

Yes, she did manage to get some words in edgewise and score some points. She did manage to show the world how she can keep her cool and stay focused when she's being attacked. She did manage to easily get under Donald Trump's skin, causing him to behave predictably badly.

But given all her experience, and the opportunity, she could have drilled down even more, explaining, in more detail, how she'd get the job done -- and maybe (hopefully) change some minds.

At the end of the day, though, what I think doesn't matter. The real question we need to ask is, "did either of them attract new supporters/voters?" I'm not qualified to judge that. But this I do know:

There's a disturbingly large number of Americans who have either said they will sit this election out and won't vote or that they will write in another name on the ballot. A stupid move to be sure, but that's a topic for another day.

So here's my question for them ...

"Did the debates change your mind; will you now vote for one of the two candidates?"

If the answer is "yes" I will happily retract my statement that "the debates were ineffective."

If you enjoyed this story click on "become a fan" at the top of the article, right next to my name. You'll be notified every time I post.