AllPolitics - Debates '96

Campaigns & Elections October/November 1996


Presidential Debate II
October 16, 1996

Debate Score Card

Prepared by Ron Faucheux, Editor and Publisher
(See the Campaigns & Elections "Debate Watcher's Guide" for details).

Follow-up questions, please call
202-638-7788 (day) or
202-298-6665 (evening)

FINAL SCORE: CLINTON 75, DOLE 74

Dole looked good and did better than expected handling the town hall format. He seemed to have learned from George Bush's mistakes in 1992. He was aggressive and didn't miss many opportunities. Clinton expressed his basic messages with clarity. He artfully used facts and figures to illustrate accomplishments. Because of voter doubt that Clinton is honest, he's wise never to say "trust me" -- but instead to say, "don't take my word for this" -- and then to use statistics to make the point. Clinton's statement about "no attack has ever....and no insult has ever...." was well done, an attempt to exploit public distaste for negative politics.

EACH CANDIDATE BEGINS WITH 50 POINTS.
CLINTON +50, DOLE +50

Part A -- Add Points

1. Did candidate meet or exceed expectations?
CLINTON +3, DOLE +9
Dole did much better handling the town hall format than he was expected to do. He was aggressive without looking nasty or mean, though was clearly being negative.

2. Did candidate accomplish what he needed to do?
CLINTON +9, DOLE +5
Dole needed to (a) score big to change the dynamic of the election and (b) to show he could relate to average people. He did some of that, but didn't land any knock-out punches.
Clinton needed to (a) avoid mistakes, (b) reinforce his basic message, (c) effectively deflect attacks while connecting with average people. He did that.
Dole made a major pitch for California, which apparently has become the key to his electoral vote strategy. His expression of support for the CCRI was part of that strategy. At some points, it almost seemed like both candidates were running for Governor of California instead of President. Clinton's message about the state's economy being better now than four years ago helped reverse some of Dole's efforts that were targeted to the nation's largest state.

3. Did candidate control agenda and remain on the offense?
CLINTON +2, DOLE +5
Dole raised the issue of trust and ethics from the first question on. Clinton seemed personally hurt by Dole's remarks, but he did not rebut them -- he refused to take the bait.
Dole raised a number of strong points on ethics but did not fully drive them home. The format made it difficult for any candidate to control the agenda.

4. Did candidate get the better of the opposition in key exchanges or confrontations?
CLINTON +5, DOLE +5
Dole provoked the first conflict with his comments on Medicare and Medicaid. Clinton didn't have adequate time to answer. Dole handled Medicare and Social Security issues well, though Clinton responded effectively by taking Dole's reference to his "ideas" and turning it against him.
Dole scored a good line about Clinton's tax cuts expiring in 2000. Clinton's "I'll tell you how we'll pay for it" was helpful but did not erase the impact of the Dole hit. Dole hit Clinton hard on promising a tax cut and not delivering and seemed to put Clinton on the defensive. Dole's negativity and Clinton's ability to rise above attacks was a factor.

5. Did the candidate answer questions effectively?
CLINTON +7, DOLE +5
Dole handled the defense issue well. Clinton's "Commander in Chief" response was effective. Dole's rebuttal was strong. Dole gave a good answer to the tobacco question. Clinton came back strong; Dole's rebuttal was aggressive.
On the age issue, Dole didn't do quite as well as he needed to on this critical point. Dole's crack about falling off the platform and getting a call from a trial lawyer was effective.

SUBTOTAL OF ADDED POINTS:
CLINTON +76, DOLE +79


Part B -- Deduct Points

Candidate Appearance:(May deduct up to 5 points)

Both candidates looked good.

Hair & Grooming
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Tired & worn
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Clothing inappropriate, sloppy
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Make-up not well done
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Poor posture
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Unpleasant, distracting facial expressions
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Tone: (May deduct up to 5 points)

Too negative, nasty
CLINTON -0, DOLE -3
While Dole was aggressive and often effective, his negativity did him some harm.

Weak, uncertain
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Humorless, too intense
CLINTON -1, DOLE -0

Obnoxious, arrogant, ornery
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Speaking Style:
(May deduct up to 5 points)

Garbled, confused expression of ideas
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Incomplete, fragmented statements
CLINTON -0, DOLE -1
Dole occasionally lost the power of his points because of a lack of clarity and incomplete statements.

Inability to stay within time limit
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Poor eye contact
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Speaking too fast,too slow
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Too automated, canned
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Too loud, too low
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Lack of animation
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Low energy level
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Monotonous, no inflection
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

General Matters: (May deduct up to 5 points)

Unprepared, lack of knowledge
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Nervousness
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Ineffective opening
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0
Dole did very well with his opening, far better than the first debate. He failed, though, to draw the hard contrasts or to take control of the agenda. Clinton seemed to be relieved about that. Clinton did well defining his basic message -- a familiar refrain.

Ineffective closing
CLINTON -0, DOLE -1
Clinton gave a better closing.

Lack of alertness
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Stiff and wooden
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Disorganized presentation
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Other:
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Major Blunders: (May deduct up to 10 points)

Serious gaffe, embarrassing misstatement, or erroneous declaration
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Loss of cool, unpleasant display of anger or irritation
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

Poor handling of an exchange with opponent or questioner
CLINTON -0, DOLE -0

TOTAL POINT DEDUCTIONS (Part B)
CLINTON -1, DOLE -5

FINAL SCORE:

BILL CLINTON 75

BOB DOLE 74


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