University of New Haven Experts Analyze First Presidential Debate

Experts in political science and national security examine the candidates’ performance and what it means moving forward.

Leading into the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Chris Haynes, an assistant professor of political science and an expert who has extensively researched both presidential candidates and has been quoted regionally and nationally, predicted that the showdown would be must-see TV.

“Donald Trump's goal was to appear in control, level-headed and knowledgeable," Haynes said just hours before the debate began. “And Hillary Clinton had to convince Americans that she is a normal human being who has feelings, is fallible and can own up to her mistakes. It's an expectations game and whoever outperforms the most will come out on top."

After the 90-minute back and forth – which early estimates show was viewed by 70 to 80 million people – Haynes offered his analysis. “Spirited debate that I would give to Hillary Clinton on points and style,” he tweeted at the event’s conclusion.



Matthew Schmidt, an assistant professor of national security and political science, critiqued the approaches of both candidates.

“Trump’s failure to put long argument together on anything gives Clinton freedom to follow her script,” he tweeted with about 20 minutes to go in the debate. “He’s not knocking her off her game.”



He followed up minutes later, tweeting, “Clinton isn’t moving voters either with her competence. But then, she’s ahead and doesn’t have to. Question is does debate change Florida?”



Howard Stoffer, an associate professor of national security and a former senior foreign service officer in the U.S. Department of State and former director of counterterrorism at the United Nations, shared his analysis the morning after.

“Donald Trump needs better foreign policy advisors to grasp U.S. nuclear policy, stick with our allied defense pacts and learn ISIS history,” he tweeted.