Vijay Prashad: Polling data show that the two of them, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are running very close to each other. What seems to drive voters to the candidates is not enthusiasm for them but dislike of the opponent.
Richard Behan: The Democratic National Committee tilted the primary season to favor Hillary Clinton. This might be seen benignly as an aberration, a negligible prank in the messy world of politics. It was not an aberration.
Peter Dreier: Supporters of Hillary Clinton seem to believe that each Trump scandal adds to voters’ negative assessment of his fitness to be president, like a snowball that gets bigger and bigger as it rolls downhill. But that doesn’t seem to be happening.
Tom Hastings: Rich boys who love to intimidate others have run the world far too long. Hillary is problematic but Trump is absolutely unacceptable.
Carolyn Heldman: First debates matter because polls don’t move much after this, so barring an October surprise, this was Trump’s last big chance to boost his standing. Instead, Clinton is likely to get the bounce.
Berry Craig: Before the debate, much of the media—even some of the “liberal, lamestream media”—seemed to be grading Trump on a curve. It looked like the Fourth Estate was holding Clinton to a stratospherically-high standard while setting the bar for Trump at ground level.
Sam Husseni: All the lies and spin from Clinton and Trump largely manifest themselves because each side excuses them because “the other” is worse. That is, the very “bipartisan” structure of our elections is in large part responsible for the dynamics we’re seeing.
RJ Eskow: Clinton’s fate rests on her ability to turn out key Democratic voters in large numbers, especially young people and minorities. In her zeal to defeat her opponent, which she clearly did, Clinton didn’t do enough to inspire and motivate her base.
William J. Astore: Instead of calm, Trump projected anger. Despite running for president for more than a year, he seemed ill-prepared and not in command of the narrative.
John Peeler: Trump is a serial, serious liar, while Clinton shaves the truth a good bit, but mostly avoids saying stuff that’s wholly false. Trump’s disregard for truth is truly pathological, while Clinton is about like most of us when it comes to telling the truth.
William J. Astore: We will get a narrow discussion of establishment views with considerable jousting and posturing (and perhaps some mugging from Trump), generating some heat but precious little light.
Berry Craig: If Donald Trump doesn’t pass out, soil himself, throw up, drool or “speaketh in an unknown tongue,” most of the TV talking heads will declare him the winner.
Steve Crandall: Donald Trump clearly fits the roll of the scorpion as he lures his supporters by using fear, hate and lies to propel his message to make “American Great Again”.