NEW YORK, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Experts and voters alike saw Republican nominee Donald Trump as the perceived loser of the first presidential debate held Monday night.
During the debate held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, the political "outsider" Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton traded punches over the economy, taxes, race relations and personal temperaments.
But the candidates' performances may change few voters' minds, as the 90-minute exchange of jabs provided no new concrete information while reinforcing stereotypical images of the two, experts say.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
"In any debate, when you spend a lot of time explaining yourself or explaining why you didn't do something, ultimately you lose the debate," said Richard Himelfarb, Associate Professor of Political Science at Hofstra University. "He pretty clearly lost the debate."
Trump indeed had been on the defensive throughout in the most-watched presidential debate in American history, where a total of 84 million viewers tuned in across 13 of the TV channels that carried it live.
Himelfarb said the pivotal moment during the debate was when Hillary laid out why she thought Trump might be afraid to release his taxes.
"He made a mistake by spending a lot of time defending his unwillingness to release his tax returns and that became the focus," said Himelfarb.
"That is what people are going to ultimately remember most from this debate," he added.
Besides his tax returns, Trump also took the bait and spent considerable time defending his business records, his derogatory comment about a minority beauty pageant contestant, and his swinging stance on the Iraq war and whether U.S. president Barack Obama was born in America.
Trump's defensive tactics were also off-putting for many voters.
"Trump did a lot of talking over the moderator, interrupting and speaking out of turn, and I think it's not appropriate especially when you're going to be interacting with world leaders," said Kristin Bennet from New York City who watched the debate.
"You can't just talk over people and be disrespectful in that way," said Bennet.
Immediate after-debate poll results showed just that. A CNN/ORC poll showed 62 percent of Americans that watched the debate said Clinton won compared to 27 percent who said Trump won.
MILDER THAN EXPECTED
Although Trump wasn't able to gain an upper hand during the night, experts and voters observed that he had stayed on message as a challenger to the political establishment, which his supporters enjoyed, and was not too forward on issues most vulnerable to Clinton like her health, her husband's previous infidelities and the allegations of corruption at the Clinton Foundation.
To some voters, Trump seemed somewhat in control, did not continuously draw upon his previous controversial assertions, and did not insult his opponent directly as he usually does.
"The atmosphere was unexpectedly mild, and Trump's performance was not too bad for his first time," said Yumin Yin of Ohio.
The first half hour of the debate where the two candidates clashed on trade was Trump's strongest moments of the night, many noted. The New York Times even reported that "Donald Trump won the first 25 minutes of the first presidential debate."
He repeatedly bashed Clinton on North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Democratic administration's failure to prevent jobs from leaving the country, which was his usual argument that had courted many of his followers who were unsatisfied about their economic reality.
"I thought Trump was relatively articulate towards the beginning," said Peter Schultheis from Texas.
"I don't think they give us anything particularly new in terms of issues," said Jingsi Wu, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations at Hofstra University.
Voters were also disappointed at the lack of concrete policies and issues of the debate.
Bennet said she attended the first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008, and compared the two debates eight years apart as "night and day."
"Both parties' candidates in the other one were more articulate than what I saw today," said Bennet.
Experts said that the debate would not likely to change the mind of U.S. voters in a transformative manner, but just reinforce their existing opinions on both candidates.
"At this moment in the American media environment of political conversations, we've reached a point where media consumers and average citizens are so divided, so much so that they will only go to particular news outlets to support their own formed opinions," said Wu.
"They would not think that Trump necessarily lied or Clinton dodged certain questions, they did not see the candidates' statements in the same light," Wu added.
"I think most of Trump's supporters are going to basically stay with him. I think the race is going to settle back to what it spun for quite a while, which is Hillary being ahead by three or four points," said Himelfarb.