"Clinton tried throughout to be disciplined and on her talking points and her well-rehearsed (and, one presumes, focus group-tested) quips and one-liners. She tried consistently to paint Trump as a dangerous and unstable person, repeating many of the same descriptors used in her ads. Her aggressive debate style likely connected with the college-educated voters and her most dedicated constituency — the mainstream media — to whom she repeatedly appealed both before and during the debate to fact-check her opponent.
Trump was far less scripted and consequently less reliant on
statistics, but held to his key points in the three segments of the
debate. He was more accessible to the average blue-collar voter, the
voting group where he is strongest.
While there were substantive issues addressed, including taxes,
cyber-security, race relations and nuclear proliferation, much of the
time centered on such topics as Trump’s taxes, President Obama’s birth
certificate and Trump’s alleged treatment of women. Clinton clearly had
the strategy of trying to provoke Trump with barbs and personal attacks.
Her rival generally kept his cool, but he was far from perfect, missing
several opportunities to exploit Clinton’s weakness on her emails and
her record as secretary of state."