Six in 10 debate watchers said former Vice President Joe Biden did the best job in tonight’s debate, just 28% say President Donald Trump did, according a CNN Poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS.
In interviews with the same voters conducted before the debate, 56% said they expected Biden to do the better job while 43% expected that Trump would.
The post-debate result is about the same as the outcome of a post-debate poll in 2016 after the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. In that poll, 62% thought Clinton won the debate, 27% said Trump did.
About two-thirds said Biden’s answers were more truthful than Trump’s (65% Biden to 29% Trump), and his attacks on the President were more frequently seen as fair. Overall, 69% called Biden’s attacks on Trump fair while just 32% said Trump’s attacks were fair.
The survey is designed to be representative of those registered voters who watched tonight’s debate; it does not represent the views of all Americans. The voters who watched the debate were more partisan than Americans as a whole, 35% identified as independents or non-partisans compared with around 40% in the general public, and the group of debate watchers was more Democratic than a typical survey of all adults, with 39% identifying as Democrats and 25% as Republicans.
The CNN post-debate poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone and includes interviews with 568 registered voters who watched the Sept. 29 debate. Results among debate-watchers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 6.3 percentage points. Respondents were originally interviewed September 22-27 either by telephone or online, and indicated they planned to watch the debate and would be willing to be re-interviewed when it was over. Respondents initially reached online are members of the SSRS Opinion Panel, a nationally representative probability-based panel.