After debate — surprise! — women aren't breaking for Trump
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Polling of the second debate between GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report MORE and Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: The center strikes back Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE by CNN/ORC showed that 57 percent of people polled thought Clinton won the debate, while 34 percent thought Trump won. Nearly six in 10 people thought that the Trump who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and who kissed women without their permission believed his own words. Few believed his apology.

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This observer agrees that Trump did better than in the first debate, but thinks that the observable win or loss was a win for Trump's supporters but an overall loss, because Trump did not move the needle and did not attract more support from the quintessential independent or Republican college-educated suburban woman.

In fact, the CNN/ORC poll indicates that Clinton won with men (49 percent) to Trump's 38 percent and among women (64 percent) to Trump's 30 percent. Overall, 63 percent of those polled thought Trump did better than in the first debate, with 39 percent thinking Clinton did better.

The better than two-to-one Clinton margin with female debate-watchers indicates Trump's apparent lack of success in convincing women he is not a male macho ingrate. Women have been breaking for Clinton for several weeks, according to polls. Nothing Trump said tonight will appreciably affect the trend of educated suburban women moving toward his opponent.

Two reasons: No. 1, the midnight apology Trump made by video the night the story broke of his long-ago verbal peccadillos was not believed by many or any. No. 2, the apology Trump opened up the debate with was not believed by many other than his rabid supporters. With 64 percent of women debate-watchers declaring that Clinton won the debate, did Trump gain any progress toward the 270 Electoral College votes a presidential winner must have?

The same poll of debate-watchers broke down this way: Twenty-five percent of watchers decided on going with Clinton because of what they saw and heard; 21 percent said they decided to vote for Trump and a 53 percent majority declared that their minds were made up and were not changed by the debate.

Content of the debate aside, on the critical issue of temperament, 64 percent of debate-watchers picked Clinton as the one who could "serve effectively as president," while only 27 percent picked Trump. Four percent picked both.

As longtime political and Washington hand David Gergen noted, the debate was a "missed opportunity" for Trump, since he is just treading water, behind in the national average of polls while Clinton is making more headway with independents and college-educated suburban women. Trump apparently did little to help his cause.

One reason, Gergen said, is that Trump's bellicose way of messaging what he would like to do from the White House too closely resembles what a president of a "banana republic" might say. College-educated suburban women don't buy that. Most have read and understand the Constitution, something Trump apparently hasn't.

That is why Trump did not win the second of three debates, although he did better than in the first. The "Access Hollywood" tape did too much damage.

Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of The New York Times Syndicate.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.