The poll that shows how Donald Trump's comments about sexual assault are dividing voters

YouGov survey shows viewers split after bad-tempered second presidential debate

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American voters remain split after the second US presidential debate, with Donald Trump’s ferocious attack on Hillary Clinton’s husband - former president Bill Clinton - dividing opinion.

A post-debate YouGov poll found 47 per cent of viewers thought Ms Clinton won the contest, while 42 per cent said Mr Trump came out on top. A total of 12 per cent believed the clash was a tie. 

Only six per cent of voters said they changed their mind after watching the debate, and just one per cent of those who had made up their mind said they would consider voting for the other candidate. 

The debate saw Donald Trump forced to defend himself against claims of sexism after footage emerged of him allegedly advocating groping women. 

He said he was “very embarrassed” about the comments, before turning to attack Bill Clinton. Mr Trump held a press conference before the debate with three women who said the former president had sexually assaulted them.

“Mine were words, his was action,” Mr Trump said of Mr Clinton.

“What he's done to women, there's never been any body in the history of politics in this nation that's been so abusive to women.”

Ms Clinton said the remarks made by her Republican rival in the recording represented “exactly who he is”.

She added: “We've seen him insult women, we've seen him rate women on their appearance, ranking them from one to 10, we've seen him embarrass women on TV and on Twitter.”

The YouGov survey suggests Mr Trump’s comments on sexual assault may have cost him, with only 30 per cent of women saying he won the debate compared to 50 per cent favouring Ms Clinton.

And 60 per cent of viewers said they disagreed with Mr Trump’s claim that he is “a gentleman”, while just 31 per cent believe it to be true.

It comes less than a month before polling day, with Ms Clinton slightly ahead in most polls after Mr Trump was seen to perform poorly during the first debate and was then engulfed by accusations of sexism.

Regardless of who they supported, 58 per cent of people surveyed in the poll expected Hillary Clinton to be elected as president, while only 25 per cent thought Mr Trump would win.

YouGov’s model currently predicts Clinton is on course to receive 48.5 per cent of the final vote compared to Mr Trump’s 43.4 per cent. That would give her 356 votes in the electoral college – significantly more than the 270 needed to win the presidency.

Those surveyed said they thought Mrs Clinton was better prepared, more knowledgeable, more positive and more presidential. Mr Trump scored higher only for evasiveness and negativity. 

Ms Clinton also came out on top on policy issues. She was viewed more favourably on five areas included in the survey: taxes, Syria, Obamacare, unifying the country and selecting Supreme Court judges.

YouGov editor in chief Freddie Sayers played down the impact of the debate. 

He told The Independent: “Hillary Clinton was seen by people watching the debate as more presidential, more knowledgeable and better prepared; yet she was only judged to have ‘won’ the debate by the relatively narrow margin of 47% to 42%.

"While some voters are shocked by Donald Trump’s behaviour and words, most of his supporters are prepared to tolerate it.

"His consistent attacks on Hillary Clinton and her husband gave an overall effect of negativity which shrouds both candidates.

"We find that the effect of these big set-piece events on the final result is often exaggerated - 96% of the debate viewers we asked said it won’t affect their vote at all.”