Donald Trump may have lost the first presidential debate, but he might not sink too far in the polls because of it. | Getty
Continuing our POLITICO feature, where we dig into the latest polls and loop in other data streams to tell the story of the 2016 campaign. Here are five numbers that mattered this week.
The reviews are in: Donald Trump lost the first presidential debate. But he might not sink too far in the polls because of it.
Of the nine scientific national polls conducted either immediately after Monday night’s debate or in the days following that asked debate-watchers who won, Hillary Clinton won all nine – often by wide margins. Same for the four post-debate, battleground-state polls released this week: Clinton went four-for-four.
That was also the verdict in a new Fox News poll released Friday night: Among likely voters who watched the debate, 60 percent said Clinton won, while only 22 percent picked Trump as the winner.
Still, Trump’s share of the vote among likely voters in a four-way matchup was unchanged from the previous poll in mid-September: 40 percent. Clinton’s share ticked up slightly, from 41 percent to 43 percent.
Trump is still winning about 80 percent of self-identified Republicans, unchanged from the previous poll. And he’s still winning about half of white voters.
The debate is probably best described as a squandered opportunity for Trump: He kept his base, but he didn’t expand his coalition. While the percentage of undecided voters decreased from 6 percent in mid-September to 3 percent in the new poll, Trump held steady.
Trump could be running up near his ceiling: He’s at 40 percent in the four-way ballot, and 44 percent in a head-to-head matchup with Clinton, who is at 49 percent without the other candidates included. Expanding past that will require changing voters’ minds: A combined 55 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, including 49 percent who say they have a “strongly unfavorable” view.
Even though Trump retained his support on the ballot test in the Fox News poll, he damaged himself in other ways in the debate. The percentage of likely voters who view Trump as honest and trustworthy shrank to 31 percent, down from 39 percent two weeks ago. And 62 percent of likely voters say Trump is not honest or trustworthy – one point higher than the 61 percent who say Clinton isn’t honest.
Women are a particular weak spot for the GOP nominee. In mid-September, 48 percent of white men and 44 percent of white women found Trump honest and trustworthy. Now, 44 percent of white men view Trump as honest and trustworthy, but only 34 percent of women agree.
Both candidates continue to struggle badly on this measure among younger voters. Seventy-one percent of voters younger than age 35 view Clinton as not honest or trustworthy, a point higher than the 70 percent of young voters who say Trump isn’t honest or trustworthy. (Younger voters still tilt toward Clinton on the ballot test: 44 percent to Trump’s 28 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 17 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 8 percent.)
Trump touted his “winning temperament” at the Hofstra debate, but he failed to make the sale to the American people.
A 59-percent majority of likely voters said in the Fox News poll they don’t think Trump has the temperament to be president – equal to the mid-September poll.
Clinton, on the other hand, boosted her numbers significantly. Two-thirds of likely voters, 67 percent, say Clinton has the temperament to be president, up from 59 percent two weeks ago.
Trump also failed to convince voters on one of his most significant thematic arguments on Monday: that his lack of government experience is an asset, and Clinton’s experience is a liability.
The Fox News poll asked voters whether it was a “good thing” or “bad thing” that Trump “has never been in government.” Respondents were split – but tilted negative: 43 percent said it was good, and 47 percent said it was bad.
For Clinton, they asked whether the fact Clinton “has been in government for more than 20 years” was a good or bad thing, and they found voters saw her experience more as an benefit. A 53-percent majority said Clinton’s experience was a good thing, and just 40 percent saw it as a bad thing.
There’s a massive gender gap on this question, at least among white voters. While white men say Trump’s lack of experience is a good thing by a wide margin, 60 percent to 25 percent, more white women say it’s a bad thing (49 percent) than a good thing (43 percent). Only 32 percent of suburban women say Trump’s inexperience is a good thing.
The numbers for Clinton are just as stark: Only 29 percent of white men say Clinton’s experience was a good thing, but 56 percent of white women see it as good. And more than two-thirds of suburban women – the voters Trump needs to attract in states like Pennsylvania and Colorado – say Clinton’s experience is good.
A new Mason-Dixon poll in Florida gives Clinton a 4-point lead over Trump built mainly on Clinton’s strength – and Trump’s weakness – among Latino voters.
Clinton leads among Hispanics, 64 percent to 29 percent, the poll shows. That’s a more significant advantage than Barack Obama enjoyed in Florida in 2012 (60 percent) and 2008 (57 percent), according to exit polls.
Trump is significantly underperforming past Republicans among Hispanics in Florida. Mitt Romney won 39 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, and John McCain won 42 percent in 2008.
Part of that is a long-term trend: Cuban-Americans, who are more Republican than other Latinos, are a smaller percentage of the Florida Hispanic population. And younger Cuban-Americans are trending more Democratic.
But Trump seems to be accelerating these trends this year. And most of the interviews in this poll were conducted before a Newsweek report alleged one of Trump’s companies circumvented the embargo against Cuba in the 1990s.