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Polls Paint Different Pictures of Who Won Last Night’s Debate

Sep 27, 2016

Who won Monday night's debate? It depends on what kind of poll you look at.

CNN conducted a poll immediately after the first presidential debate pitting Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. Compiling responses from 521 people, the CNN/ORC poll found that Clinton was the clear winner with 62% of respondents saying she performed better than her opponent. Just 27% chose Trump, leaving 11% undecided.

The same poll found that respondents thought Clinton performed stronger when it came to discussing the economy, terrorism, and foreign policy. Voters say she appeared to be the stronger leader, was more sincere and authentic, expressed her views more clearly, and understood the issues better. In short: Clinton was the obvious victor.

A survey from Public Policy Polling. sponsored by VoteVets Action Fund, found that voters nationally thought Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the debate, 51% to 40%. That poll surveyed 1,002 prescreened respondees, who said they'd watch the debate and were willing to give their thoughts immediately afterward.

But online polls depict a different outcome. Internet polls conducted by major media outlets overwhelmingly show Trump as the winner. At the time of writing (these polls are still open to the public), a CNBC poll with over a million responses shows the Republican candidate winning with 67% to Clinton's 33%; a TIME poll with about 1.6 million votes has him leading his Democratic opponent 55% to 45%; he is also ahead in a Fox News poll that surveyed over 13,000 people, with 50% to Clinton's 34%.

With over 600,000 responses, Fortune's online poll also shows that voters think Trump won the debate 53% to 47%.

Many online polls are labeled with caveats, warning readers that they are not scientific surveys; nor do they accurately represent the American electorate. The Daily Dot reports that supporters of Donald Trump even took to sites like Reddit and 4Chan in an attempt to intentionally skew online polling results (including those of Fortune.com).

According to FiveThirtyEight, it takes some time for the effects of a presidential debate to actually resonate since reliable post-debate polls tend to come out at least a couple days after the fact.

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