Hillary Clinton was deemed the winner of Monday night's debate by 62% of voters who tuned in to watch, while just 27% said they thought Donald Trump had the better night, according to a CNN/ORC Poll of voters who watched the debate. [...]Voters who watched said Clinton expressed her views more clearly than Trump and had a better understanding of the issues by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Clinton also was seen as having done a better job addressing concerns voters might have about her potential presidency by a 57% to 35% margin, and as the stronger leader by a 56% to 39% margin.
It didn't take long a for a consensus to emerge: among pundits, partisans, and prominent political observers, there's no real doubt that Hillary Clinton won last night's debate. Democrats, who were rattled by recent polling, are suddenly walking with a spring in their step. Republicans, who were feeling increasingly optimistic about the presidential race, are choosing to focus on the fact that there are still more debates coming up, where Donald Trump will try to recover.And though it'll be a while until we have polling data that shows what effect, if any, last night had on the overall race, overnight surveys suggest the public and the pundits are on the same page about the first Clinton/Trump showdown.
Also overnight, Public Policy Polling released the results of its own post-debate survey, sponsored by VoteVets Action Fund, which found less lopsided results, but which nevertheless pointed to a Clinton victory, 51% to 40%.The same poll found most respondents believe Clinton has the temperament to be president and is prepared for the job. A majority said the opposite about Trump.Republican pollster Frank Luntz hosted a focus group last night and found, by a 16-to-6 margin, participants saw Clinton as the debate's winner. CNN, meanwhile, organized a focus group of its own in Florida with a group of undecided voters. Of the 20 participants, 18 said Clinton prevailed.This matters for a couple of reasons. First, obviously, is the fact that Trump hoped to parlay a good night into some kind of "bump" in presidential polling, possibly even taking the lead in the overall race. The fact that he did so poorly makes this less likely.And second, recent history suggests next-day reactions help influence broader public perceptions. Millions of voters didn't tune in last night, and their impressions of the debate will be influenced by others' reactions.