While most news organizations raced to declare Hillary Clinton the clear cut winner of the long anticipated first presidential debate, a Connecticut professional pollster Tuesday said “that was just a lot of chatter.”
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said: “We will know in about 4-to-7 days who won the debate” between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
“Anybody who is calling a winner before then isn’t conducting a real poll,” Brown said.
Brown said while the Quinnipiac University poll doesn’t advertise in advance on what it will be polling on, he is “pretty sure” that the poll will be canvassing voters on who won Monday night’s debate, which was expected to have a television audience of more than 100 million people.
Brown said it takes several days to do a “professional poll” to get a true reading on how the electorate feels on any issue. “You can’t do it in a couple of hours.”
When asked who he thought won the debate, Brown responded: “That’s not my job. I am a professional pollster. I’ll tell you this — both candidates offered their views. That’s what a debate is.”
While Brown said it was too early to know who won the debate, it didn’t stop many of the national news organizations from declaring a winner — Hillary Clinton.
According to CNN, Clinton was deemed the winner of Monday’s debate by 62 percent of voters who tuned in to watch, while just 27 percent said they thought Trump had the better night.
Voters who watched, according to CNN, said Clinton expressed her views more clearly than Trump and had a better understanding of the issues by a margin of more than 2-to-1.
Clinton also was seen as having done a better job addressing concerns voters might have about her potential presidency by a 57 percent to 35 percent margin, and as the stronger leader by a 56 percent to 39 percent margin, again according to the CNN poll.
The gap was smaller in the CNN poll on which candidate appeared more sincere and authentic, though still broke in Clinton’s favor, with 53 percent saying she was more sincere versus 40 percent who felt Trump did better on that score.
About half in the CNN poll said the debate did not have an effect on their voting plan, but those who said they were moved by it tilted in Clinton’s direction, 34 percent said the debate made them more apt to vote for Clinton, 18 percent more likely to back Trump.
The CNN post-debate poll includes interviews with 521 registered voters who watched the debate. Results among debate-watchers had a 4.5 percent margin of error.
Respondents were originally interviewed as part of a September 23-25 telephone survey of a random sample of Americans, and indicated they planned to watch the debate and would be willing to be re-interviewed when it was over.
But Brown, who has more than 30 years of experience as a political journalist and editor in Washington, New England, and Florida, reiterated that news reports of Clinton winning the debate were “lots of chatter.”
“The real question,” Brown continued, “is whether there is a correlation between the chatter and public opinion. We won’t know that for about a week.”
Brown was previously a political reporter for United Press International, served as the White House correspondent and then political editor for Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, and also was the editor of the Insight section of the Orlando Sentinel.
Before Monday night’s debate, the latest Quinnipiac University poll found the race between Clinton and Trump was a virtual dead heat.
The poll, of 1,115 likely voters nationwide, was conducted from Sept. 22-25 and showed Clinton leading Trump 44 to 43 percent, with 8 percent for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and 2 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
Monday’s poll found that in a head-to-head matchup, Clinton still wins by a 1 percent margin with 47 percent of the vote to Trump’s 46 percent.
A resounding 84 percent of voters said they would be watching Monday night’s highly anticipated showdown.
“The race for president is a virtual tie and millions of likely voters consider the first debate must-see TV. And for those inclined to place a wager on the likely winner, Hillary Clinton is the best bet,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said. “In this Super Bowl of American politics, the ratings will be huge and the contenders start dead even.”
The poll also measured voters overall level of interest in this year’s presidential race. Not surprisingly, it is higher than most presidential elections.
Fifty-five percent of likely voters nationwide say they are “more motivated than usual” to vote, while 11 percent say they are less motivated and 33 percent say they have the same motivation to vote “as usual.”