- REUTERS/Saul Loeb
Republican pollster Frank Luntz declared Donald Trump back in the game after a strong performance at Sunday night’s presidential debate in St. Louis.
“I may have made a mistake in writing off Trump,” Luntz tweeted after the debate, the second of three scheduled between Trump and Hillary Clinton. “After talking with voters tonight, he’s back in this race.”
Sunday night’s debate came at the tail end of the most tumultuous weekend of the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign so far. Trump landed in hot water on Friday when a video from 2005 emerged showing him boasting about trying to sleep with a married woman and remarking that he could “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
Some pundits speculated that the controversy could cost him the race, but it seems that a strong debate performance could help sway voters back toward Trump.
Luntz tweeted that before the debate, eight members of his focus group were willing to vote for Clinton and nine were willing to vote for Trump. After the debate, only four said they were willing to vote for the Democratic nominee and 18 said they were willing to vote for Trump. Overall, Luntz’s focus group said Trump won the debate.
Luntz also tweeted some postdebate analysis, saying Trump “had a sense of humor” and was “funny and ironic, not mean and nasty.” Trump also went on the offense, refused to take Clinton’s bait, and “stayed focused on the issues,” Luntz said.
“Trump had the best closing tonight and probably of any debate we’ve seen this year – a sincere compliment about his opponent,” he tweeted.
In response to a question from a voter in the audience who asked Trump and Clinton to say one nice thing about each other, Trump said: “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 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.”