People or polls: Trump campaign can claim debate victory

Posted September 29, 2016

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Pool via AP) (Deseret Photo)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off in their first presidential election debate on Monday night. The two candidates focused the contest on issues such as taxes, the economy and other financial matters plaguing Americans.

In addition, the two candidates also traded personal jabs, with Clinton digging at Trump’s history as a businessman, his history with birtherism (the idea that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States) and his decision not to share his tax returns. Trump slammed Clinton's history with her private email servers and her inability to connect with the American public.

So who won? An early CNN/ORC poll taken on debate night found voters felt Clinton was victorious over Trump, 62 to 27 percent. MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki noted that this gap is larger than from debates dating back to 1984, save for Mitt Romney’s dominant victory over Obama in 2012. As Vox reported, polls from Public Policy polling, as well as focus groups from Florida and Pennsylvania, also said Clinton claimed the victory.

Pundits similarly said this morning that Clinton won the debate, according to The New York Times. Even during Trump’s supposed best moment, Clinton surged among undecided voters, as seen in this graphic provided by commentator Frank Luntz.

But one quick scroll through Twitter would show something different than what’s being reported in the mainstream media. On Tuesday morning, the top phrase trending across the United States was the simple hashtag, #TrumpWon.

Trump supporters and conservative pundits were out in full force, charging that the GOP nominee’s soundbites from the debate gave him the edge. Others pointed to the early morning snap polls (often filled out by social media users and online web readers) and data from Monday night that show Trump gaining an edge over Clinton.

But other people on social media, especially those who supported Clinton and felt she won, began to wonder if #TrumpWon was a hoax, and if they had watched the same debate as others.

These supporters then turned the #TrumpWon hashtag into a mockery.

But the fact remains that Trump did win, at least in terms of Twitter discussion. According to The Hill, Trump made up 62 percent of the conversation on Twitter Monday night, which includes both criticism and praise for the Republican nominee. Conversely, Clinton earned 38 percent of the tweets. The data came from Twitter Government, a Twitter account created for the election.

Trump also dominated the Facebook conversation, becoming the subject of 79 percent of the debate. Clinton, meanwhile, earned 21 percent of the conversation, according to The Hill.

Though Trump won on Twitter and Facebook, it should be noted that Clinton’s name was searched more than any other by all 50 states during the debate, according to Google Trends.

As this visual shows, Clinton’s name overtook Trump’s in terms of search terms while the debate rolled on.

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.


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  • David Doucette Sep 30, 2016
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    Lester Holt is a registered Republican. Hardly on her team.

  • Fred Garner Sep 29, 2016
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    Don't know how she's allowed to run for President - really?? It's called the Constitution. Same way Trump is running. Both are embarrassing.

  • Wayne Pearce Sep 29, 2016
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    Come on WRAL. The CNN says that they polled just a little over 200 people. But every other poll including time .com shows Trump the winner.

  • Clarence Drumgoole Sep 29, 2016
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  • Amy Whaley Sep 29, 2016
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    Why aren't we talking about the 5,600 Clinton emails recovered by the FBI that are work related, not private as Clinton had claimed. The public has a right to know what these emails are and the State Dept. is playing games releasing info. This should concern every American regardless of one's political affiliation.

    While many of you will attack the messenger, Judicial Watch, what about the info that has been revealed? I don't care who pressured who to clean out the cat box, it is full!

  • Ron Coleman Sep 29, 2016
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    As do most of your post.

  • Ron Coleman Sep 29, 2016
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    No matter who gets elected we are going to be the losers. I will never vote for Clinton because we know how nasty she is and I do not understand how she is even allowed to run for President remember what Obama said about her in 2008 "Hillary will say anything and do nothing"

  • Doug Bogard Sep 29, 2016
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    I believe Clinton won, but what type of victory is it when the moderator is on your team? Just like the DNC in the primaries. A hollow victory at best.

  • Justin Briller Sep 29, 2016
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    Hillary spends 5 times the money as trump in NC and still trails in the polls. Must be too many deplorables in NC.

  • Paul Stroud Sep 29, 2016
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    @Barney all the scientific polls, PPP, Gravis, and CNN all shows Clinton won handily.