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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher October 12, 2016

Donald Trump's ridiculous claim that all polls show he won second debate with Hillary Clinton

Discord between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan -- sown by a video of Trump bragging in graphic terms about trying to have sex with women -- is continuing as the 2016 presidential campaign enters its final weeks.

On Oct. 11, 2016, four days after the release of the 2005 video, the Republican nominee slammed the GOP House speaker from Wisconsin on Twitter (and later on the Fox News Channel).

In the tweet, which came two days after his second debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump declared:

"Despite winning the second debate in a landslide (every poll), it is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!"

So, we thought we’d check the polls.

Trump and Ryan

The relationship between Trump and Ryan, never close, frayed after the video. Ryan denounced Trump’s remarks and canceled what would have been his first appearance with Trump at a rally in Wisconsin the following day.

We rated True a claim by Clinton that Ryan still endorses Trump, but the ill will between the two Republicans remained. An hour after tweeting about the polls, Trump called Ryan in another tweet "our very weak and ineffective leader."

The response from Ryan’s office: "Paul Ryan is focusing the next month on defeating Democrats, and all Republicans running for office should probably do the same."

The debate

Fiery exchanges between Trump and Clinton marked the second debate, which was held at Washington University in St. Louis. The town hall-style event drew more viewers nationally than the Green Bay Packers-New York Giants game, but fewer than the first debate. It generated more than two dozen fact checks by our colleagues.

So, who did Americans say won the second debate?

Here’s a look at the national, scientific polls:




Politico/Morning Consult

Registered voters



Featured Fact-check

NBC News/Survey Monkey

Likely voters



CNN/ORC International

Registered voters who watched the debate



YouGov (research company)

Registered voters who watched the debate




So, not only did Trump not win by a landslide in any of the polls, he didn’t win any of the polls, period.

Trump’s campaign didn’t get back to us before deadline on what polls would back Trump’s statement.

All we could find in his favor were non-scientific polls, open to anyone to participate, that were conducted online. But such polls can be heavily influenced, for instance, by campaigns pushing supporters to vote, or can skew to one side based on the audience of the website. Some may even allow more than one vote per person.

The Drudge Report reported that among more than 1.1 million people who cast votes in its survey, 72 percent said Trump won and 28 percent said Clinton won.

In a non-scientific poll offered online by, the website for the Ann Arbor News and other newspapers in Michigan, Trump won by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent among more than 27,000 votes cast. And in a non-scientific poll offered by the website of a group of New Jersey newspapers, Trump won 64 percent to 31 percent among more than 241,000 votes cast.

For what they’re worth, those are landslide margins.

But even in non-scientific surveys, Trump didn’t win them all: In a non-scientific survey done online by the Fox television affiliate in Milwaukee, Clinton won by 52 percent to 48 percent among 325,000 votes cast.

Our rating

Complaining about a lack of support from Ryan, Trump nonetheless claimed he won the second debate with Clinton "in a landslide" in "every poll."

But four national, scientific surveys all showed that not only did Trump not win by a landslide margin, he didn’t win any of the polls at all.

Our rating: Pants on Fire.

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Donald Trump's ridiculous claim that all polls show he won second debate with Hillary Clinton

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