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.