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Face to face.

One in three questions at the 2016 presidential debates was personal and not about policy

Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Geopolitics reporter

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both came into the 2016 US presidential debates with a good amount of personal baggage—namely Clinton’s emails and Wall Street speeches, and Trump’s tax records and comments about women. Just how much attention did these topics siphon away from the discussion about matters of public policy?

Put together, the three presidential debates featured 70 questions total, not including those repeated more than once. Overall, 47 questions were about policy, and 23 were personal—meaning only two-thirds of the questions invited the candidates to discuss what they plan to do about the future of the country.

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