By Bonnie K. Goodman
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has gone three for three winning all the presidential debates against her opponent Republican nominee Donald Trump. According to a CNN/ORC instant poll taken after the third debate on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in viewers, opinion Clinton won the debate, but it was her smallest margin of all the debates, with most pundits claiming Trump had his best performance to date. The debate was held at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and was moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
The CNN/ORC poll showed that viewers were split and believed the debate was much closer than the previous matches. There was only a 13 percent margin between Clinton and Trump, while the previous debates were over 20 percent. Clinton had 52 percent of viewers claiming she was the winner compared to 39 percent who thought Trump won. In the polls, results from the first debate Clinton had 62 to Trump’s 29, in the second debate she had 57 percent while Trump had 34 percent of viewers saying he won.
Ideologically viewers were split as to which candidate they agreed with, with 50 percent agreeing with Clinton’s positions versus 47 percent for Trump. However, more viewers believe Clinton is more in command of foreign policy, 55 to 41 percent. Trump, however, won when it came appearing more “sincere and authentic” with 47 percent saying the GOP nominee seemed that way to 46 percent for the Democratic nominee.
The major difference had to preparedness for both the debate and the presidency. Viewers thought Clinton as a “better understanding of the issues, 61% to 31%,” and she is “better prepared to handle the presidency, 59% to 35%.” There were also deep divides that are not just partisan but demographic, especially white voters’ education levels. A majority of college educated whites believed Clinton won the debate, 58 to 33 percent, those with less than a college degree believed Trump won 48 to 41 percent.
The third presidential debate was the most placid of the confrontations between Clinton and Trump. Except for a few zingers on either side, attacks were to a minimal as policy took center stage. As The Hill noted “gun rights, abortion, entitlements, immigration and foreign policy” were discussed in a campaign where policy has taken a back burner to insults and scandals.