Americans Have High Debate Expectations For Hillary Clinton

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll also shows divides on which candidates should get the chance to debate.
Democrats are somewhat more confident in Hillary Clinton's upcoming debate performance than Republicans are in Donald Trump's
Democrats are somewhat more confident in Hillary Clinton's upcoming debate performance than Republicans are in Donald Trump's. 

Americans expect Hillary Clinton to do a better job than Donald Trump in the presidential debates this year, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

By a 10-point margin – 45 percent to 35 percent – Americans think Clinton will outperform Trump, while another 20 percent aren’t sure.

Democrats are somewhat more confident in their nominee than Republicans are ― 86 percent of Democrats expect Clinton to prevail, while just 73 percent of Republicans say the same of Trump. Independents are split about evenly between the two candidates. 

During the primary election, Democratic voters generally perceived Clinton as having won her debates, while GOP primary voters had more mixed views of Trump’s performances.

Americans are divided on how much company they want Clinton and Trump to have onstage. According to debate rules announced last week, candidates will only be included if they’re polling above 15 percent in an average of five national surveys ― a criterion that seems likely to exclude Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, who’s currently averaging closer to 8 percent, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, whose numbers are even lower.

Twenty-one percent of Americans agree with the current ground rules, saying they’d like to see third-party candidates who meet the polling threshold included, while 31 percent want to see third-party candidates included regardless of how well they’re doing in the polls.

Another 33 percent only want Clinton and Trump to be included.

A plurality of both Democrats and Republicans ― 40 percent and 47 percent, respectively ― want to see a showdown between just Clinton and Trump. But 42 percent of independents and members of third parties say that all candidates should be invited, regardless of their poll numbers.

Fifty-nine percent of Americans say they’re at least somewhat looking forward to this year’s debates, with 31 percent saying they’re looking forward to them a lot. Twenty-six percent say they’re not looking forward to them very much, and 15 percent say that they’re not anticipating them at all.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Aug. 17-18 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.