Hillary Clinton won the final presidential debate, topping Donald Trump by a 13-point margin according to a CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers, giving Clinton a clean sweep across all three of this year’s presidential debates.
But Wednesday’s debate watchers were closely divided on which candidate they trusted more on the issues most important to them.
Overall, 52% who watched tonight’s matchup thought Clinton did the best job, to the 39% that thought Trump did. That’s a tighter margin than in the first two debates. After the first debate, 62% of those who watched said Clinton won, 27% Trump, followed by a 57% Clinton to 34% Trump margin for the town hall debate held October 9.
Half of voters (50%) who watched Wednesday’s debate said Clinton agreed with them more on the important issues, while 47% thought Trump did, but by wide margins, they thought Clinton had the better understanding of the issues, 61% to 31%, and was better prepared to handle the presidency, 59% to 35%.
Still, most said their minds weren’t changed by tonight’s debate, 54% of those who watched said it would have no effect on their vote, and those who did feel swayed were about evenly split between Trump (23%) and Clinton (22%).
Voters who watched were divided on who would better handle the economy (50% said Clinton, 48% Trump), immigration (50% Trump to 48% Clinton), or nominations to the Supreme Court (49% said Trump, 48% Clinton). Clinton held a narrow edge on handling the federal budget (50% to 46%) while she held a wide advantage as better able to handle foreign policy (55% to 41%).
Trump was again seen as spending more time on the attack, by a 60% to 23% margin, and more said his attacks were unfair (43%) than said so of Clinton’s jabs at Trump (34%). Even among Republicans, 41% said they considered Clinton’s attacks on Trump’s fair, but Democrats were not nearly as accepting of Trump’s attacks on their nominee (19% said his attacks against Clinton were fair).
Watchers were split on who was more sincere and authentic during the debate, with 47% saying Trump was and 46% seeing Clinton that way. Clinton had a clear edge on this question after the first debate, 53% to 40%.
Aside from partisanship, the poll suggests one of the sharpest demographic divides among debate-watchers is education among whites. White voters who hold college degrees said Clinton won by a 58% to 33% margin, while those who do not have a four-year degree say Trump won by a 48% to 41% margin. And the gap between these voters on which candidate agreed with you on the issues that matter most to you is even larger, with 59% of white college debate-watchers saying Clinton does while 61% of whites without degrees say it’s Trump.
The CNN/ORC post-debate poll includes interviews with 547 registered voters who watched Wednesday’s debate. Results among debate-watchers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Respondents were originally interviewed as part of an October 15-18 telephone survey of a random sample of Americans, and indicated they planned to watch the debate and would be willing to be re-interviewed when it was over.
What did FOX 2 viewers have to say about the election? This is a tally of their votes: