POLL: Who Won the Second Presidential Debate?

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in St. Louis on Sunday for a widely anticipated second presidential debate.

You can weigh in by voting in our poll at the bottom of the post on who you think won the debate.

Trump and Clinton took the stage without shaking hands, and the debate quickly became one of the least civil debates in modern history.

At one point, Clinton said it was a good thing that Trump was not in charge of the laws in the country.

“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump sharply shot back, which elicited cheers from the crowd.

Trump repeatedly interrupted Clinton and at certain times loomed behind her as she spoke. Trump even referred to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton as a deal with “the devil.”

Clinton said at one point that Trump lives “in an alternate reality.”

Many commented on social media about the lack of civility throughout the debate.

Sunday’s debate came at a highly-charged point in a contentious election. Trump’s campaign has been reeling from the release of a 2005 video that revealed Trump speaking in lewd and demeaning terms about women. In the recording, which was published by the Washington Post on Friday, the Republican candidate bragged he could kiss and grope women without their consent because he was a celebrity.

He said that “when you’re a star, they let you do it. They let you do anything.”

The release led to a fallout of major Republicans who publicly denounced and withdrew their support of the GOP nominee with some calling on Trump to quit the race.

Trump’s vulgar comments caused Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to disinvite him from an appearance they were scheduled to make together this weekend in Wisconsin.

Even Trump’s running mate Mike Pence criticized his remarks in a statement Saturday morning.

“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday,” Pence said.

“I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people. We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night.”

The controversial tape has also caused rumors to swirl regarding the existence of more damaging videos of Trump.

A former “Apprentice” producer alleged Saturday night that there are “far worse” videos of Trump from his time on the reality TV show.

Trump sent out a video apology following the release of the 2005 tape. He also held a brief news conference in St. Louis Sunday evening with three women — Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey — who allege that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted them over the years, including during his time in office as president and Arkansas governor.

In the news conference which was posted on Facebook Live, Broaddrick said, “Actions speak louder than words,” she continued. “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison.”

Even before Trump’s controversial 2005 tape, the second debate was a must-win for Trump. Clinton surged in the polls after the first debate with the majority of publications claiming the debate was a decisive victory for Clinton.

The debate almost immediately moved the polls in Clinton’s favor. The Democratic nominee moved from a narrow lead in the polls before the first debate to a 5 to 6 percentage point lead which she holds now. According to FiveThirtyEight, Clinton’s chances of victory increased from 55% before the first debate to 81% now.

Sunday’s debate was moderated by Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC. The town-hall debate offered voters a chance to ask issue-based questions.

Read on for a recap of the debate.

The 2005 Tape

Anderson Cooper repeatedly asked Donald Trump about the 2005 tape.

“That is sexual assault. You bragged that you committed sexual assault,” Cooper said.

“I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker-room talk,” Trump said. “Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker-room talk.”

Trump said that he had apologized to his family and the American people. He then pivoted the discussion saying there were more important topics to debate such as terrorism.

“When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have frankly drowning people in steel cages, wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, so many bad things happening. We haven’t seen anything like this. The carnage all over the world.

“I will knock the hell out of ISIS,” Trump said.

However, Cooper continued to press Trump, asking him if he ever treated women like he talked about on the tape.

“I have great respect for women,” he said. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

Trump denied having touched or kissed women without their consent.

Clinton, responded to Trump’s remarks about the recording, by saying he was unfit to be president.

She said while she disagreed with past candidates, “I never questioned their fitness to serve.” “Donald Trump is different,” she said.

Clinton said the recording revealed Trump’s true character.

“It’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.”

“If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse,” Trump said in response. Clinton then said, “He gets to run his campaign any way he chooses,” she said.

She referenced Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention saying, “When they go low, you go high.”

Email Server

Trump said that if he wins, “I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” referring to her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Clinton said she could not spend all of her time fact-checking Trump, and recommended voters visit her website to see his false statements. She added it was a good thing that Trump was not in charge of the laws in the country.

“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump responded.

Clinton continued to defend her actions saying, “After a year long investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and no evidence that anyone can point to at all anyone who says otherwise has no basis…that any classified material ended up in the wrong hands.

“I take classified materials very seriously and always have when I was on the senate armed services committee, I was privy to a lot of classified material.”

Affordable Care Act

After a viewer said the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, is not affordable, he asked the candidates what each would do to bring the cost down, and make coverage better.

Clinton responded by first saying that she agreed with the audience member: “premiums have gotten too high,” she said. “Copay, deductibles, prescription drug costs — and I’ve laid out a series of options we can take to try to get those costs down.”

Clinton outlined her plan saying:

Number one, insurance companies can’t deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition.

Number two, no lifetime limits, which is a big deal in you have serious health problems. Number three, women can’t be charged more than men for health insurance, which is the way it used to be. Number four, if you’re under 26, and your parents have a policy, you can be on that policy until age 26.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster. He said on Sunday that Americans’ monthly insurance premiums are rising by “astronomical” amounts.

“Your health insurance, you’re health care, going up by numbers that are astronomical — 68%, 59%, 71%,” he said.

“We have to get rid of the lines around the state. Artificial lines, where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing because they want and President Obama and whoever was working on it, they want to leave those lines because that gives the insurance companies essentially monopolies,” Trump continued. “We want competition.”


A voter in the audience asked, “You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being a threat to the country after the election is over?”

Trump responded by saying, “One thing we have to do is we have to make sure that because there is a problem, whether we like it or not — and we could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem and we have to be sure that muslims come in and report when they see something going on.

“When they see hatred going on, they have to report it.”

Clinton began her response by saying that, “there’s been a lot of very divisive, dark things said about Muslims.”

Clinton was clearly referencing previous comments made by Trump.

She then said, “We need American Muslims to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines. I’ve worked with a lot of different Muslim groups around America,” she continued. “I’ve met with a lot of them and heard how important it is for them to feel they are wanted and included and part of our country, part of our homeland security and that’s what I want to see.

“To do so, in a coalition with majority Muslim nations. Right now, a lot of those nations are hearing what Donald says and wondering, ‘why should we cooperate with the Americans?’ and this is a gift to ISIS and the terrorists. Violent jihadist terrorists,” Clinton said. “We are not at war with Islam. And it is a mistake and it plays into the hands of the terrorists to act as though we are.”

When pressed to answer whether Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration still stood, Trump said his plans amounted to “extreme vetting.”

Trump said:

We are going to areas like Syria. Where they’re coming in by the tens of thousands because of Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton wants to allow a 550 percent increase over Obama.

People are coming into our country like we have no idea who they are. Where they are from. What their feeling about our country is and she wants 550 percent more. This is going to be the great Trojan horse of all time.

Tax Provisions

A voter asked, what specific tax provisions the each candidate would change to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes.

Trump said he would get rid of carried interest.

One of the greatest provisions for people like me, I give up a lot when I run because I knock out the tax code. She could have done this be years ago. She’s a United States senator. She complains that Donald Trump took advantage of the tax code. Well, why didn’t she change it? Why didn’t you change it when you were a senator? The reason you didn’t is all your friends take the same advantage that I do. You have provisions in the tax code that frankly we could change.

Trump added, “We’re getting rid of regulations which goes hand in hand with the lowering of the taxes. We’re bringing the tax rate down from 35 percent to 15 percent. We’re cutting taxes for the middle class.”

Clinton responded by saying, “it is sort of amusing to hear somebody who hasn’t paid federal income taxes in maybe 20 years talking about what he’s going to do.”

She added that his plan “will give the wealthy and corporations the biggest tax cuts they’ve ever had.”

Clinton said she wants to “invest in hard-working families.”

I have said nobody who makes less than $250,000 a year, and that’s the vast majority of Americans as you know, will have their taxes raised because we’ve got to go where the money is. The money is with people who have taken advantage of every single break in the tax code. Yes, when I was a senator, I did vote to close corporate loopholes.

Anderson Cooper directly asked Trump, “Did you use the loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?”

Cooper was referencing the near-billion-dollar loss in the mid-1990s to avoid paying taxes.

Trump responded, “Of course I do. So do all of her donors or most of her donors. I know many of her donors. They took massive tax write-offs.”

Cooper continued to press the Republican candidate saying, “Have you paid personal federal tax?”

Trump crafted his response to criticize Clinton for not doing enough as a senator to reform the tax code.

“A lot of my write-off was depreciation and that Hillary as a senator allowed. The people that give her all this money want it,” he said. “I understand it the tax code better than anybody that’s run for president.”

The War in Iraq

Trump once again stated that he opposed the war in Iraq, despite past public statements that contradict him.

“This is the tenth or twelfth time he’s denied being for the war in Iraq. We have it on tape,” Clinton insisted. “The entire press corps has looked at it. Never stops him from saying what he wants to say. You can see it.”

“It’s not been debunked,” Trump said. He then turned the attention back on Clinton, “You voted for it and you shouldn’t have.”

Crisis in Syria

When asked about the crisis in Syria, Clinton called the situation “catastrophic.”

She then criticized Russia and said the country’s leadership favored Trump.

Trump responded to the same question saying that Clinton “talks tough against Russia, but our nuclear program has fallen way behind.”

When Raddatz referenced remarks of Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, on Syria, Trump said, “He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.”

Last Question

To close an intense debate, a viewer changed the tone when he asked: “Can you name one positive thing you respect in one another?”

Clinton was the first to answer and focused her response on Trump’s children.

I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that and I think that’s something that as a mother and a grandmother that’s very important to me.

So I believe that this election has become in part so conflict-oriented, so intense, because there’s a lot at stake. This is not an ordinary time and this is not an ordinary election.

We are going to be choosing a president who will set policy for — not just for eight years but because of some the important decisions we have to make here at home and around the world, from the Supreme Court to energy and so much else, and so there is a lot at stake. It’s one of the most consequential elections that we have and that’s why I’ve tried to put forth specific policies and plans. Trying to get it off the personal and put it on what I want to do as president.

And that’s why I hope people will check on that for themselves so they can see that yes, I’ve spent 30 years — actually maybe a little more — working to help kids and families, and I want to take all of that experience to the White House and do that every single day.

Trump responded to the same question by saying:

I consider that statement about my children to be a very nice compliment. I don’t know if it was meant to be a compliment but it is a great — I’m very proud of my children. And they’ve done a wonderful job and they’ve been wonderful, wonderful kids. So I consider that a compliment

I will say this about Hillary: She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter. I disagree with much of what she’s fighting for, I do disagree with her judgment in many cases, but she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up and I consider that to be a very good trait.

Post-Debate Polls

According to a CNN / ORC poll of debate watchers immediately following the debate, Trump exceeded expectations, however Clinton won. The results showed 57% said Clinton won, as opposed to 34% for Trump.

The CNN / ORC poll following the first presidential debate showed a stronger victory for Clinton with 62% of debate watchers saying she won.

YouGov’s post-debate poll, also shows Clinton winning the second presidential debate over Trump 47% to 42%. The poll interviewed 812 registered voters who watched the debate.

Reader Poll

Vote in the reader poll below on who you think won the debate. (Note: This is not a scientific poll.)

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