If you want to understand how voters think, pay close attention to the content of the presidential debates and to the minute by minute coverage by news sites on social media.
Want to know how many times New York businessman, Donald Trump, a Republican, interrupted former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton during Sunday night’s debate? Vox.com, which explains the news, can tell you—18, to be precise, compared with one interruption by the Democratic nominee, Clinton.
Want to play debate bingo? Guilty, but only out of curiosity.
Newsweek composed for social media followers a game including references to Trump’s overuse of the word, tremendous, and to Clinton’s emails.
The Huffington Post said Trump didn’t know how Trojan horses work after he referred to lean vetting by the U.S. of Syrian refugees as “the great Trojan horse of our time.”
I didn’t click the Post’s link.
And what about the softball Q & A at the end of the debate, a sharp contrast to the noted failure of the opponents to shake hands at the beginning?
It’s reasonable, even customary to end such a slugfest on a lighter note. But the closing question—whether the candidates can name one positive thing they respect about each other—nods to the lack of substance this election cycle.
Forget for a moment, if you can, that we couldn’t have asked for two worse candidates.
We shouldn’t be surprised that we’ve gotten them.
I, too, feel the magnetic pull of these nuances. They’re fun to watch. They are the stuff of debates. But they have become the stuff of elections, also—the stuff by which we choose our leaders.
Notice the post-debate swing in one focus group’s vote reported by the Independent Journal Review. Eight said they would vote for Clinton, and nine would vote for Trump before the debate. Afterwards, four said they would vote for Clinton, but 18 said they would vote for Trump.
Notice, too, the individual reactions on social media. One person I know made a joke about Hillary’s obsession with those funny, little pant suits.
Social media buzzed with Trump’s stance—often appearing to prowl the stage—an extension of his bravado.
But I noticed that nearly 30 minutes—or one-third—of the debate elapsed before the candidates stopped squabbling about Trump’s so-called locker-room banter and Clinton’s alleged poking fun of a rape victim.
It was almost 9:30 p.m. when an observer asked what the candidates would do to bring skyrocketing insurance costs down following the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Trump would repeal and replace it—with what, who knows? Clinton would somehow find a way to bring costs down, while keeping the benefits.
There’s little room for debate that we’ve landed two unsavory candidates, both lacking substantial policy ideas to change the direction of our country.
We shouldn’t be surprised. We haven’t demanded better.
But they sure are entertaining.