I saw this story and then immediately hunted up the crosstabs to see better breakdowns of the data. First off is the lede:
Americans expect Hillary Clinton to do a better job than Donald Trump in the presidential debates this year, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.So the news is people expect Clinton to out-debate Trump. No real surprise there. And no surprise if you read later than Dems are more likely to see Clinton will win and GOPers more likely to see Trump as the winner.
By a 10-point margin – 45 percent to 35 percent – Americans think Clinton will outperform Trump, while another 20 percent aren’t sure.
Now let's look deeper. Here are the crosstabs, which gives us breakdowns on the "winner" question by gender, age, race, party ID, income, and Census region (South, etc.).
Again, nothing is gonna shock you, but it's interesting nonetheless. Every age category sees Clinton as doing better, though younger respondents under the age of 30 are most likely to predict it. Whites also predicted Trump doing better. Interestingly, the middle income bracket of $50,000 to $100,000 is the only one to predict Trump will win, no doubt due to him having more supporters in that category. Because, face it, people tend to believe their own candidate will do well in a debate and, afterward, will report their loser actually won. People see what they want to see, what we in the biz called the theory of motivated reasoning.
What Clinton has to fight, of course, is high expectations going into the debate. Her campaign folks will in a few weeks start praising Trump's debate skills in hopes of raising expectations of his performance and dampening expectations of her performance. Keep an eye out for it.