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Poll: Voters Ratchet Up Criticism of Trump at Debate

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President Donald Trump drew criticism on Thursday night from viewers at both of his debates, but likely not the ones he would have most hoped for.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted after Monday night’s debate in Missouri, found that 57 percent of likely voters had a negative view of Mr. Trump’s performance, while only 27 percent found it positive. Most respondents – 71 percent – had a positive view of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s performance in the debate. (Among undecided voters, most viewed both candidates favorably.)

Mr. Trump’s standing within his own party suffered following the debate: 78 percent of Republicans gave Mr. Trump positive marks, compared with only 37 percent who said they found his performance negative. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 61 percent rated Mr. Trump’s performance negatively, while 40 percent found it positive.

Pollster Peter Hart conducted the poll, with Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg. Hart Research conducted the September 2016 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll with Republican pollster Chris Anderson.

Beyond the questions about Mr. Trump’s debate performance, most voters disagreed with his comments at the lectern about accuser Monica Lewinsky (79 percent said they disapproved), his disparaging comments about women (74 percent) and his description of the campaign in 2016 as “a rigged” election (68 percent).

But in the opening minutes of the debate, Mr. Trump knocked Clinton for calling a private meeting with Mrs. Clinton’s former mistress “locker room talk” — and then followed up later with a question about whether she would be going to the bathroom at that moment. Nearly two-thirds of voters — 63 percent — said they found his comments inappropriate.

“That’s a hot button — a real live hot button issue,” Mr. Hart said.

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