Une comparaison entre deux débats présidentiels: l’un à cinq en France et ‘autre entre Hillary Clinton et Donald Trump

Bernard Owen, Maria Rodriguez-McKey

L’on apprend beaucoup en faisant des comparaisons. Nous avons mis plusieurs articles en français et en anglais sur le débat à cinq qui a eu lieu, pour la première fois, avant le premier tour de l’élection présidentielle française. Puis en ce qui concerne le débat Hillary Clinton et Donald Trump, le texte en anglais de Wikipedia est riche en détails.

Débat présidentiel : les orateurs ont dominé sur la forme, les autres ont joué la sécurité

Analyse. Les cinq principaux candidats à la présidentielle ont été finalement cléments envers Emmanuel Macron, figure montante, et discrets sur les affaires.

LE MONDE | 21.03.2017 à 01h41 • Mis à jour le 21.03.2017 à 07h04 | Par Vanessa Schneider

A situation inédite, débat inédit. Jamais une telle confrontation entre candidats à la présidentielle n’avait eu lieu avant le premier tour. Mais à l’issue de cette joute à cinq, et malgré plus de trois heures de direct, il n’est pas sûr que les Français voient beaucoup plus clair dans cette campagne pleine de rebondissements tant une foultitude de thèmes auront été abordés, en quelques minutes parfois.

Première singularité de ce débat : alors que la campagne a été émaillée de scandales judiciaires dans une proportion jamais vue lors d’une présidentielle, la question des affaires a été à peine effleurée. Au grand soulagement sans doute de François Fillon et de Marine Le Pen, tous deux aux prises avec la justice.

Autre constat : alors que l’on aurait pu s’attendre à ce que les quatre autres candidats concentrent leurs attaques sur Emmanuel Macron, figure montante de ce combat, il n’en a rien été. Le leader d’En marche ! s’est effacé tout seul. Discret sur les questions de société, un peu plus alerte sur l’économie, l’emploi et la fiscalité, des dossiers qu’il maîtrise mieux, il n’est sorti de sa réserve que pour répondre aux attaques de Marine le Pen ou de Benoît Hamon sur son rapport à l’argent.

Les orateurs avantagés

Plutôt à l’aise dans la riposte, il l’a moins été dans l’explication de son projet. Emmanuel Macron semble avoir été prisonnier de son positionnement, ni à droite ni à gauche, distribuant les bons points aux uns et aux autres selon les sujets. Une volonté d’apparaître pragmatique qui lui a fait prendre le risque d’être flou.

Il a également, à l’évidence, payé son manque d’expérience dans ce genre d’exercice. Car à cette joute de la parole que sont les débats télévisés, ce sont les orateurs les plus percutants et les plus entraînés qui ramassent généralement la mise.

Marine Le Pen, en dépit des erreurs factuelles, des contrevérités et des approximations que ses adversaires n’ont pas manqué de souligner, a déroulé son programme avec énergie, brutalité et efficacité pour consolider le socle de ses partisans. Elle n’a pas dévié de sa ligne : immigration, insécurité, attaques contre l’Europe, et elle ne s’est guère laissée déstabiliser par ses compétiteurs.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, connu lui aussi pour ses talents de tribun, a fait de même, ponctuant ses démonstrations de quelques bons mots dont il a le secret. Une utilisation de l’humour à double tranchant : s’il a fait rire, il n’est pas parvenu à installer l’image d’un présidentiable capable de l’emporter. Mais ces deux-là ont incontestablement dominé le débat sur la forme.

Condescendance et stature

Benoît Hamon, moins rompu à l’exercice, a été plutôt habile, bien qu’inégal selon les thèmes. En perte de vitesse dans les sondages, le candidat issu de la primaire de la Belle alliance populaire a tenté de grappiller des voix à gauche en s’attaquant tour à tour à Emmanuel Macron sur l’argent, à Marine Le Pen sur l’immigration et à Jean-Luc Mélenchon sur Poutine et la Russie. Bien que soucieux de précision, il s’est attiré les sourires des autres candidats notamment ceux de François Fillon à la limite de la condescendance.

L’ancien premier ministre, qui avait marqué des points sur ses concurrents lors des débats de la primaire à droite, a tenté de réutiliser la recette de son succès : se poser en seul candidat ayant véritablement la stature d’homme d’Etat responsable. Il a notamment insisté sur le sérieux de son programme économique face à des postulants qu’il a accusé d’être déconnectés des réalités en assumant sa posture de père la rigueur. Mais en quelques mois, il a perdu de son aplomb.

Stratégie de l’évitement

En retrait pendant toute la première partie du débat, M. Fillon a souvent manqué de pugnacité. Soucieux de prendre le moins de risque possible et de laisser les candidats de gauche s’écharper entre eux, il est peu souvent arrivé à s’imposer dans les duels.

Mais il a évité les pièges sur les questions épineuses pour lui comme les affaires et ses positions controversées sur de nombreux sujets de société. Cette stratégie du dos rond ne lui aura probablement pas fait perdre de soutiens à défaut d’en avoir convaincu de nouveaux.

Sur le fond, peu de surprises et pas de propositions nouvelles. Chacun est resté dans son couloir : François Fillon en partisan de la rigueur et du libéralisme, insistant sur son « expérience », Marine Le Pen sur ses thématiques habituelles s’attaquant au « système », et les deux candidats de gauche Benoît Hamon et Jean-Luc Mélenchon, souvent d’accord, qui se sont évertués à défendre leurs différences pour tenter de sortir du coude à coude qui se joue entre eux dans les sondages.

Who were the winners and losers of

the marathon French presidential debate?

The Local, news.france@thelocal.com

21 March 2017, 01:51 CET+01:00

Will three and half hours of historic and often belligerent debate live on TV between five French presidential candidates actually change anything?

Five of the main runners in France’s presidential election race entered the same ring for an eagerly awaited and historic live TV debate on Monday night.

The current frontrunners, far right Marine Le Pen and liberal maverick Emmanuel Macron were joined by conservative, scandal-hit François Fillon, Socialist Benoit Hamon and the far-left wildcard Jean-Luc Melenchon.

With such a diverse range of potential future presidents brought together for a battle that lasted over three and half hours there were always going to be fireworks.

Le Pen blasted Macron for « speaking for seven minutes without actually saying anything » and Macron slammed Le Pen for « trying to divide the French » over the question of the full body Islamic swimsuit called the burqini.

Fillon mocked Le Pen when she suggested Brexit had been fantastic for the UK. He pointed out that Britain hadn’t even left the EU yet.

Hamon had a dig at the other candidates for suggesting his idea for universal income was the only original and really beneficial reform offered by any of them and Jean-Luc Melenchon lived up to his name as a firebrand by taking the fight to all four of his rivals and emerging as many people’s winner.

He resented being asked a question about political corruption and transparency, pointing out that only Fillon and Le Pen are facing formal investigations.

In the most unpredictable French presidential race in memory many believed that the live TV debate could be crucial to the chances of the likes of Emmanuel Macron an unproven upstart and Fillon, struggling to move on from the fake jobs scandal that derailed his campaign in January.

So what was the conclusion?

A quick poll of TV viewers taken after the debate showed that in their eyes Macron was the most convincing candidate in the debate ahead of Jean-Luc Melenchon. Although it was only one poll.

The Local France @TheLocalFrance

A poll of TV spectators suggests Macron was the winner. That has surprised BFMTV’s analysts who thought he was disappointing.  Macron scored 29 percent of votes on the question of who was the most convincing candidate, ahead of Melenchon on 20 percent.

That surprised many analysts, or at least those on BFM TV, who thought Macron failed to stamp his authority on the debate or leave a lasting impression on viewers.

Most people considered Macron had the most to lose from the live debate given his rise in the polls and volatility of his voters. Given that he was expected to be the main punchbag the En Marche candidate will just be happy to emerge fairly unscathed.

But speaking after the debate Marine Le Pen once again criticised him.  « It was the first time I was in front of him and I take my hat off to him because I have never met anyone who could speak for several minutes without actually putting forward any clear ideas. Totally empty, » she said. At times, especially when Macron talked of France’s place in the world, it felt like Le Pen had a point.

The former Rothschild banker was keen to stress when he agreed with candidates, even Marine Le Pen when she brought up the subject of autism, but did he do enough make him stand out from the others?

For her part Le Pen was combative and belligerent throughout especially when attacked on her hardline stance on Islam and the burqini and her plan to pull France out of the euro.

Former frontrunner Fillon, 63 said Le Pen’s proposal to ditch the euro and bring back the French franc would cause « economic and social chaos. »

Le Pen hit back accusing the former prime minister of operating « Project Fear ». Those who already back her would not have been concerned by the attacks against her and will have welcomed her willingness to take the fight to Macron.

For his part, Fillon, took a long time to get into the debate and was mocked on France’s Twittersphere for going missing in the first half, when many were left wondering whether he had even turned up.

This spoof tweet warning the public that Fillon had been kidnapped after disappearing from the debate was one of many mocking the scandal-hit candidate for going missing.

Fillon had been hoping for a boost Monday after taking a battering over revelations that his wife was paid hundreds of thousands of euros for a suspected fake job as a parliamentary assistant and allegations that he accepted luxury suits from a rich benefactor.

While he escaped any real attacks about the scandal which will have relieved him, Fillon came across as tentative and unwilling or unable to land any real blows on opponents.

He is running out of time to close the gap on Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, both of whom, polls say, will reach the crucial second round run-off vote on May 7th.

As for the two leftist candidates Benoit Hamon and Jean-Luc Melenchon there was only one winner.

While Melenchon’s name trended on Twitter during the debate and he topped other public polls well ahead of Macron.

Analysts accepted the candidate, known for his fiery public speeches had outperformed his low poll ratings,.

Hamon, just as during much of the campaign so far, was fairly anonymous.

The snap poll of TV viewers revealed the public though Hamon was the least convincing.

Still with another debate to come involving all 11 candidates there is still plenty to play for and in this election race, anything could happen yet.

Candidates will await the polls in the coming days to fully know who were the real winners and losers from the TV debate.

Hillary Clinton – Donald Trump

The first debate took place on Monday, September 26, at New York’s Hofstra University, moderated by Lester Holt of NBC. It was originally scheduled to take place at Wright State University, but the venue was changed due to security and financial concerns.

Format

The first presidential debate was divided into six segments, each of approximately 15 minutes in length, with the moderator introducing a topic and giving each candidate two minutes, followed by approximately 8 minutes and 45 seconds of facilitated discussion between the two candidates, with both candidates receiving approximately equal time. The questions discussed during the 90 minutes were at the sole discretion of the moderator, and were not shared beforehand with the commission or with either campaign. Each candidate spoke in front of a podium. Besides applause at the beginning and end of the debate, there was no audience participation allowed, but sporadic applause occurred at various points throughout the 90 minutes.

The segments were on the economy and job creation, trade, the federal deficit, race relations and policing, the war on terror, the foreign policy of the United States, and each candidate’s experience in the political and business realm.

Reception

Writing on September 28, FiveThirtyEight found that every scientific poll so far suggests that voters thought Hillary Clinton performed better than Donald Trump in the debate.  A CNN/ORC poll of debate viewers found that 62% believed Clinton won, compared to 27% for Trump.  A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 51% thought Clinton won the debate, while 40% thought Trump won.  A YouGov poll found that 57% of Americans declared Clinton the winner, while 30% declared Trump the winner. A Politico/Morning Consult poll showed that 49% of likely voters thought that Clinton won the debate, while 26% thought that Trump won, and 25% were undecided.[42] Echelon Insights polling showed that Clinton won the debate 48-22, and that the debate made 41% of respondents more likely to vote for Clinton while 29% were more likely to vote for Trump.  A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 56% of Americans thought Clinton did better, while 26% thought Trump did.  An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll shows that 52% of likely voters who followed the debate chose Clinton was the winner, 21% chose Trump, and 26% did not choose either candidate.[4 A Gallup poll showed that more respondents thought Clinton did a better job than Trump by a margin of 61% to 27%.[46] A Fox News poll shows that 61% of respondents thought that Clinton won the debate while 21% said Trump did.[47] An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 53% of respondents thought that Clinton won the debate while 18% said Trump did.[48] A CBS News poll shows that 32% of likely voters say that they thought better of Clinton after watching the debate, but only 10% of voters said that they thought better of Trump afterward.

A panel of Los Angeles Times analysts consisting of Doyle McManus and two others found that Clinton won all six of the debate segments.[50] Among swing-state party officials and strategists surveyed by Politico, 79% agreed that Trump did not win the debate.

Moderation

The performance of Lester Holt as moderator of the debate received mixed reactions, with political critics stating that Holt struggled to keep control of the debate, and although he challenged both candidates, Holt’s repeated attempts to get the candidates to adhere to the time restrictions were ignored.

Michael M. Grynbaum of The New York Times described Holt’s performance by stating « He was silent for minutes at a time, allowing Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump to joust and bicker between themselves—and sometimes talk right over him—prompting some viewers to wonder if Mr. Holt had left the building. » He continued, « Being less conspicuous often means attracting less criticism, and Mr. Holt’s conservative approach seemed designed to avoid the opprobrium that befell his NBC colleague, Matt Lauer, whose performance at a forum this month was widely panned after he repeatedly interrupted Mrs. Clinton and failed to challenge Mr. Trump. »[53] Hadas Gold of Politico wrote « Lester Holt was on an island on Monday night. And for most of the first presidential debate, he stayed there, letting the battleships of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump shoot their missiles at one another. It made for some memorable exchanges between Trump and Clinton, matched in close-up on most networks. For some debate watchers, that’s what they want their moderators to do: say ‘go’ and let them run. But it also left some gaps where viewers probably expected sharp questions. »

Viewership

The debate set the record as the most-watched debate in television history, with 84 million viewers across the 13 channels that carried it live and were counted by Nielsen, surpassing the previous record of 80.6 million viewers set by the debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980. These numbers do not account for the millions of viewers who watched the debates online and the people who watched the debate at parties, bars, restaurants, and offices. Two million concurrent viewers watched it live on YouTube, while there were 8 million views on Facebook (whose numbers do not break down into unique viewers); in addition, 1.4 million unique viewers watched it live on CBS’s streaming service.[56] All debate-related video on YouTube exceeded 88 million views on October 3, 2016. CNN Digital reported 2.4 million live streams,[57] and Yahoo News reported 5 million views, both live and on-demand.

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