Polls: Post-Debate Clinton Can't Get Beyond The Margin Of Error

Posted: Sep 28, 2016 6:15 PM

The first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is over. The media says that Clinton won in a landslide. Those outside of the D.C. beltway felt otherwise. They felt Clinton’s scripted and formulaic answers didn’t speak to any of their concerns and they were annoyed that she tries to paint herself as her husband. We all know Hillary isn’t Bill. Democrats think otherwise. So, did she have a surge? Reuters/Ipsos and the Morning Consult noted that Clinton did indeed have a surge…that falls well within the margin of error.

First, let’s look at the Morning Consult poll, which was sponsored by Politico, who released their results this morning. Out of a sample of 1,253 likely voters, they found that moderator Lester Holt was generally fair; they felt Clinton won, and over half watched the whole debate. Yet, despite Clinton winning the debate in this poll, only nine percent said the debate changed their mind—and she only went up three points. Trump led Clinton by one point in their previous poll, both fall within the margin of error.

We have a brand-new post-debate poll that confirms Hillary Clinton got a small bump over Donald Trump from her performance. Clinton is up THREE POINTS among likely voters in the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll of the four-way race for president. Before the debate Trump was up ONE POINT. JUST NINE PERCENT of respondents said the debate changed their mind about who to vote for.

Here are some other key findings of the poll, which was conducted online Monday and Tuesday among 1,253 likely voters with a margin of error of three points.

--LESTER HOLT WAS SEEN AS FAIR. 42% of respondents said Holt was impartial. 27% said he was more favorable to Clinton and 2% said he favored Trump.

--CLINTON WAS THE WINNER. This tracks with practically all other reputable public polling: 49% say Clinton won and 26% say Trump won. 18% of Republicans say Clinton won.

--VOTERS WERE RIVETED. 72% of likely voters watched the debate, and 55% of those viewers watched the whole 95-minute affair. Half of those polled said they would watch the debate again.

In the Reuters poll, Clinton surged six points, but when you add the third party candidates, she only leads by four. Again, well within the margin of error (via The Hill):

Clinton has 44 percent support among likely voters to Trump's 38 percent in the Ipsos/Reuters national tracking poll, which was taken before Monday's first presidential debate.

Clinton's lead shrinks slightly when third-party candidates are included. In that scenario, she has 42 percent to Trump's 38 percent. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has 7 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein is backed by 2 percent.

The sample size for this poll was 1,041 voters.

So, two polls post-debate show that Clinton (for now) was incapable of gaining any meaningful ground against Trump. I say for now because we need to see what the other polls came out with post-debate. She may have been good. She may have had detailed answers, but two things will continue to hamstring her a) she’s less trusted than Trump; b) she’s not likable; and c) a lot of people have already made up their minds. Still, a nine percent change post-debate from the Consult poll is interesting. If similar figures are found in other polls, we should be able to paint a clearer picture of where these folks are going. Are they heading into the third party camps? Are they heading into the sit this one out bunker? If one thing is clear at this point is that Monday night was neither good nor bad for either camp. Yes, maybe Clinton won Monday by a large margin, but why isn’t she leading by eight or ten points post-debate if it truly was a disastrous performance by Trump? In reality, I think the whole night was a draw, with both candidates getting the upper hand in various parts of the night, with the closing act being a toss up. The second debate is surely to be where things get a bit more interesting, especially if Trump brings up the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, and the emails again. He has to hammer those points home, especially after blowing a missed opportunity when Clinton rambled about cyber security on Monday.