Americans see Hillary Clinton as the winner of the first presidential debate by a near-record margin in ABC News/Washington Post post-debate polls, with nearly half saying Donald Trump got his facts wrong and one in three saying he outright lied. His unpopularity grew slightly.
While views of both candidates remain broadly negative, 64 percent of Americans now express an unfavorable opinion of Trump overall, up 5 points from its pre-debate level. Fifty-three percent see Clinton unfavorably, not a significant change.
Trump's pre-debate unpopularity had matched its low for the campaign, suggesting the debate may have slowed momentum in his favor. Clinton, for her part, saw a +4 gain in favorability to 45 percent, not large enough to be statistically significant but her best since early August, just after the conventions.
Their weak favorability ratings aside, 53 percent of adults say Clinton won the debate, while just 18 percent say Trump won, with the rest either calling it a draw or expressing no opinion. The wide gap in views of who won, compared with the slight movement in favorability ratings, reinforces findings in past years that debates tend to have relatively little direct impact on views of the candidates, although they can exert more subtle influence on the race.
There's been just one more-lopsided result on a presidential debate performance in ABC or ABC/Post polls back to 1976: Mitt Romney was seen as having beaten Barack Obama in their first debate in 2012 by 69-18 percent among registered voters. Obama's comeback in subsequent debates that year may hold out hope for Trump.
But Trump also is on the short side of other results in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Fifty-four percent say Clinton mainly got her facts right in Monday’s debate; just 29 percent think Trump mainly stuck to the facts. And while 21 percent think Clinton intentionally lied, 32 percent say that about Trump.
The view that Clinton won extends across demographic groups other than Republicans; the only difference is the degree. Even among Republicans, fewer than half, 45 percent, say Trump won, while 83 percent of Democrats pick Clinton. Independents go 50-14 percent in Clinton's favor. And even conservatives see Clinton as the winner, if by a comparatively narrow 40-27 percent.
There are other divisions. Men say Clinton won by 48-19 percent; among women it's 58-18 percent. Whites divide by 44-26 percent in Clinton's favor; nonwhites pick Clinton by 72-5 percent. And while whites who lack a college degree divide 35-29 percent between Clinton and Trump, that expands to 58-21 percent among whites with a four-year degree.
Results are similar among registered voters; they pick Clinton as the debate winner by 51-21 percent over Trump. And Clinton's favorable-unfavorable rating among registered voters is 43-55 percent; Trump's, 37-61 percent.
While the margin by which Clinton is seen as having won the debate is second for a presidential showdown only to the first Obama-Romney matchup, others have been lopsided. Bill Clinton was seen as having beaten Bob Dole by 55-28 percent in a 1996 debate. And Lloyd Bentsen was seen as having defeated Dan Quayle in their 1988 vice-presidential debate by 51-15 percent. (These polls were only among those who said they’d seen or read about the debates.)
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone from Sept. 28-30, 2016, among a random national sample of 630 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 5 points, including the design effect, for the full sample, and 5.5 points for registered voters. Partisan divisions are 33-24-38 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents, in the full sample, and 35-27-24 percent among registered voters.