After the first presidential debate took place last night, the media has been set alight with the debate as to whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump won the day.

Of course die-hard supporters of each candidate were quick to claim a victory, but what is the general consensus? CNN asked a number of its analysts to weigh in with their view on the debate.

Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Will the debates even affect the outcome of the U.S. presidential election?

A great number of commentators were quick to laud a debate victory for Clinton. However several pointed out that in such an atypical campaign, the race may not be won as a result of strong debating.

“Coming into the presidential debate, I thought that if Hillary Clinton won decisively, she would virtually lock up the election. Coming out, it was clear that she did win decisively but I suspect that the campaign will remain ferociously close,” said CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

Despite a flustered performance from Trump, Gergen believes that it will have little impact on his hopes. “For one thing, Trump supporters aren’t judging him by traditional standards. They have heard establishment politicians over-promise and under-deliver for so long that they crave something different,” he said.

Trump says Clinton doesn’t understand ordinary Americans

Conservative columnist S.E. Cupp believes that Trump did well to present Clinton as out of touch with the electorate. “He had to hammer one point home: Clinton is a politician who doesn’t get it. Over and over again, he attacked her as more of the same, out of touch, and a politician who hasn’t gotten it right,” said Cupp. While Clinton beat the Republican candidate on specifics, “his attacks were far more effective than hers.”

Politics journalist Errol Louis praised the way that Clinton attacked Trump’s business record, which has been his claim to fame.

“It must be something really important, even terrible, that he’s trying to hide,” Clinton said of Trump’s tax returns, turning the tables on allegations that she’s hiding something in her deleted emails. “It just seems to me that this is something the American people deserve to see.”

“Clinton came into the night neck-and-neck with Trump in key states like Colorado and Pennsylvania, needing to weaken her Republican opponent on some of the things that have made him strong,” said Louis. One of these is his claim to be a successful businessman.

Clinton supporters criticize her performance

However it was not all good news for Clinton. A self-confessed Clinton supporter, CNN commentator Mel Robbins believes that Trump won last night’s debate after the Democratic candidate missed a chance to broaden her appeal. “She spoke to the intellectuals tuning in; she did not speak to the average American,” said Robbins.

At the same time, others argue that Trump proved to be his own worst enemy. The Wall Street Journal Online columnist Jeff Yang said that Trump “was weaving his own hanging rope” with his “rude, ignorant, volatile and churlish” performance.

For Sally Kohn, things got even worse for Trump on Monday night. “He seemed like a defensive, petulant bully who could only insult Hillary Clinton and America — and couldn’t offer a single solution, let alone details,” said activist Kohn.

Quick to point out her own bias as a Clinton supporter, Kohn recommends looking at Frank Luntz’ live focus group made up of undecided and leaning voters. “Just six people thought Trump won while 16 said Clinton was the victor,” reports Kohn.

More to look forward to in presidential race

Political commentator and Trump supporter Buck Sexton says that those results could have something to do with Trump’s inability to effectively attack Clinton’s weaknesses. “Trump had huge areas of vulnerability to exploit in his opponent, and he barely touched her on them — from Benghazi to her emails to the allegations of Clinton Foundation corruption,” said Sexton. “He will need a much stronger showing in his next debate or this thing will be over long before November.”

However former White House Senior Director and State Department spokesperson Nayyera Haq says that the debate was won by Clinton rather than being lost by Trump. “Trump’s glass jaw was exposed throughout Clinton’s onslaught of policy laden counter-punches,” she said.

Haq hailed Clinton and pointed out some quick jibes from the Democratic candidate in response to Trump’s short-tempered outbursts. “His snorting asides were countered with some surprising zingers from Hillary — “Donald criticized me for preparing for this debate. You know what else I prepared for? To be President,” said Haq.

So there we have it, a split in opinion as to whether Clinton or Trump won, or whether it even matters at all. If there is one thing for certain, it’s that we can look forward to more sparks flying in the next presidential debate.