Photos From After The Debate Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Who Won
The country has officially survived every one of the presidential debates of the 2016 cycle — no small feat, and surely a relief to millions of Americans. If you want to get an idea of who came out on top after the third and last meeting between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, these "after" photos from the debate say it all. Yes, you should watch the debate if you can, simply as a matter of civic engagement. But if you can't sit through the 90-minute affair (or don't want to, which would be eminently understandable), you can glean a lot about how it went just by looking at how Clinton and Trump held themselves after the debate finished.
Clinton was all smiles, and looked positively delighted as she laughed it up with others in the moments after the debate. Trump, meanwhile, left the stage alone, head down and looking dejected. Nobody knows what was going on in either of their heads, of course, but make no mistakes: One of the candidates looked a lot happier than the other one after the last debate of this cycle.
The post-debate flash polls more or less confirmed this interpretation: 52 percent of respondents in a CNN survey said that Clinton won the debate, compared with 39 for Trump, while a YouGov poll had Clinton winning 49-39.
From a stylistic standpoint, this last debate was actually quite similar to the first match-up between Clinton and Trump — and that debate was one of the worst night's of Trump's campaign. Although he has spent most of this race as the underdog, Trump was steadily gaining on Clinton when the first debate started. That wasn't the case afterwards: Several weeks of polls now suggest that that debate was a major turning point in the race, perhaps the biggest one.
By contrast, Clinton was comfortably in the lead when the third debate kicked off, so she wasn't really looking to deliver a game-changing, knockout blow on Wednesday night. A modest victory, or even a draw, would have counted as a good night for Clinton. And really, let's be honest: If Trump had turned in the best debate performance in the history of presidential debates, it probably still wouldn't have altered the fundamental trajectory of this race.
You can see this in the polls, of course. But you can also see it in the looks on the candidates' faces after the last debate was over.