A few more days will go by before we get really methodologically rigorous polls measuring how the electorate felt about the third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Still, the early indications suggest that Hillary Clinton won — though by less than in previous debates.
A poll of debate watchers from CNN/ORC found that 52 percent thought Clinton won and 39 percent thought Trump did. The poll tends to skew more Democratic, and this is Clinton’s narrowest margin in that poll yet — the results in the first two debates were 62-27 and 57-34. But it’s still a victory.
Furthermore, a poll of debate watchers from YouGov also gave the edge to Clinton, with 49 percent saying she won, compared with 39 percent for Trump. (The YouGov poll also found her winning the first two debates.)
Now, it’s not clear just how much these insta-reactions from viewers will matter — especially for this debate, when the commentary afterward has overwhelmingly focused on one topic: Trump’s refusal to say whether he’d concede the election if he’d lost.
Indeed, political science research shows that post-debate commentary and analysis can greatly influence viewers’ perceptions of who won. And media outlets are rightly focusing on this one moment as unprecedented and dangerous — it looks like it will overwhelm discussion of everything else.
Still, these poll results indicate that even before what’s certain to be many news cycles about this topic, Trump — who is currently trailing in almost every national poll and in almost every swing state — didn’t put in a strong enough performance to reverse the downward trajectory of his campaign.