Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may be weeks away from squaring off in their first presidential debate, but more than half of likely voters expect Clinton to outperform her Republican rival, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Thursday.
Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said Clinton, the Democratic nominee, will do a better job in the trio of debates — including the kickoff debate at Hofstra University on Sept 26 — compared to 43 percent who believe Trump will emerge the victor.
Interest is high in the debates, according to the poll — two-thirds of voters report that they are more interested in watching this year’s debates than previous presidential matchups.
Clinton’s supporters are more confident in her ability to navigate the upcoming debates than Trump backers are of his expected performance — 91 percent of Clinton supporters expect her to outperform Trump, compared to 78 percent of Trump supporters who say he will deliver a sharper performance. Eighteen percent of Trump supporters said Clinton would perform better.
Both campaigns have taken different approaches to preparing for the debates. Clinton’s campaign has said she has studied policy briefings, gone through multiple practice runs, and studied highlight reels of his previous debate performances.
“I do not know which Donald Trump will show up,” Clinton told supporters at an East Hampton fundraiser last month.
Trump has said he has avoided mock debates in favor of policy discussions with a roundtable of his closest advisers, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Trump has said he wants to avoid sounded too “scripted.”
More than half of voters — 53 percent — view Clinton as more capable of handling the public scrutiny that comes with serving as commander-in-chief, compared to 43 percent who said the same of Trump.
Clinton was viewed as more likely to change her political positions, with 51 percent of voters saying she is more likely to flip-flop, compared to 42 percent who believed Trump was more likely to switch positions.
The poll surveyed a random national sample of 1,001 voters by phone between Sept. 1 and 4, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.