CNN Flash Poll: Majority of debate watchers say Trump outperformed Biden | CNN Politics (2024)

CNN Flash Poll: Majority of debate watchers say Trump outperformed Biden | CNN Politics (1)

A man watches the CNN presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden at a watch party at Union Pub in Washington, DC, on June 27, 2024.

CNN

Registered voters who watched CNN’s presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump largely think Trump outperformed Biden, according to a CNN poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS, with most saying they have no real confidence in Biden’s ability to lead the country. At the same time, a majority whotuned in say it had little or no effect on their choice for president.

Debate watchers say, 67% to 33%, that Trump turned in a better performance Thursday. Prior to the debate, the same voters said, 55% to 45%, that they expected Trump to turn in a better performance than Biden. And in 2020, Biden was seen by debate watchers as outperforming Trump in both of their presidential debates.

Republicans who watched the first 2024 debate expressed broad confidence in Trump’s performance, the poll finds, with Democrats less sanguine about their party’s presumptive nominee. A near-universal 96% of GOP debate watchers say Trump did the better job in the debate, while a more modest 69% of Democratic debate watchers view Biden as the night’s winner.

And 85% of GOP debate watchers credit Trump with doing more than his rival to address concerns about his ability to handle the presidency – by contrast, only 53% of Democratic debate watchers say that Biden did a better job at addressing concerns, with 27% saying neither candidate did much to allay concerns about their abilities.

The poll’s results reflect opinions of the debate only among those voters who tuned in and aren’t representative of the views of the full voting public – in their demographics, their political preferences or the level of attention they pay to politics. Debate watchers in the poll were 5 points likelier to be Republican-aligned than Democratic-aligned, making for an audience that was slightly more GOP-leaning than all registered voters nationally.

An 81% majority of registered voters who watched the debate say it had no effect on their choice for president, with another 14% saying that it made them reconsider but didn’t change their mind. Just 5% say it changed their minds about whom to vote for.

Roughly equal shares of Biden and Trump supporters – about 3% of each – say the debate had changed their mind. Larger shares of those supporting other candidates say that the debate had changed their minds. Among debate watchers who said pre-debate that they hadn’t chosen a candidate or were open to changing their minds, 9% said that the debate had changed their minds, and 25% were reconsidering.

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden debate at CNN's Atlanta studios on June 27, 2024. Will Lanzoni/CNN Related article Takeaways from CNN’s presidential debate with Biden and Trump

Just 3% of debate watchers who said in the pre-debate survey that they supported Trump currently say they’d consider voting for Biden, while 5% of Biden supporters currently say they’d consider a vote for Trump.

Among debate watchers overall, 48% say they’d only consider voting for Trump, 40% that they’d only consider voting for Biden, 2% that they’re considering both candidates, and 11% that they aren’t considering voting for either.

The poll’s results reflect opinions of the debate only among those voters who tuned in and aren’t representative of the views of the full voting public – in their demographics, their political preferences or the level of attention they pay to politics. Debate watchers in the poll were 5 points likelier to be Republican-aligned than Democratic-aligned, making for an audience that was slightly more GOP-leaning than all registered voters nationally.

A 57% majority of debate-watchers Thursday night say they have no real confidence in Biden’s ability to lead the country, while 44% have no real confidence in Trump’s ability to do so. Those numbers are effectively unchanged from the poll taken prior to the debate, in which 55% of those voters said they had no confidence in Biden, and 47% that they lacked confidence in Trump.

Neither candidate scores highly on this metric, but while just 36% of debate watchers now say they have a lot of confidence in Trump’s ability to lead the country, only 14% say the same of Biden.

The share of Democratic debate watchers expressing a lot of confidence in Biden’s ability to lead the country fell from 54% prior to the debate to just 39% afterward, although most continue to express at least some confidence. By contrast, 69% of Republicans say post-debate that they have a lot of confidence in Trump, similar to the 73% who held that opinion prior to the debate.

Debate watchers as a whole say, 55% to 27%, that they think Trump would do a better job of handling immigration than Biden. They also give Trump the advantage on the economy (56% to 31%) and foreign policy (47% to 35%). Debate watchers trust Biden over Trump to handle protecting democracy (44% to 38%) and abortion (42% to 34%).

By 42% to 27%, voters who watched the debate say that Trump offered a better plan than Biden for solving the country’s problems, with 27% saying neither candidate offered a better plan. And 48% of debate watchers say Trump better addressed concerns about his ability to handle the presidency, with 23% saying Biden did a better job and 22% that neither candidate did. Another 7% thought both candidates did an equally good job allaying concerns.

Debate watchers’ views of Biden dipped slightly following the debate: Just 31% now view him favorably, compared with 37% in the pre-debate survey. By contrast, 43% of debate watchers view Trump favorably, similar to the 40% with positive views of him prior to Thursday’s event.

The CNN flash poll was conducted by text message with 565 registered US voters who said they watched the debate Thursday, and the poll findings are representative of the views of debate watchers only. Respondents were recruited to participate before the debate and were selected via a survey of members of the SSRS Opinion Panel, a nationally representative panel recruited using probability-based sampling techniques. Results for the full sample of debate watchers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

CNN’s Dana Elobaid contributed to this report.

CNN Flash Poll: Majority of debate watchers say Trump outperformed Biden | CNN Politics (2024)
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