POLLS taken after the third presidential debate suggest Ross Perot won some hearts and minds, and maybe a few votes, although more viewers thought Bill Clinton won the debate.
In four sets of ratings put out by the networks Oct. 19, Governor Clinton came out on top in two polls, Mr. Perot in one, and they tied in the fourth. President Bush got the best rating from 1 in 4 voters in each poll.
In an NBC News poll, 31 percent said the debate made them think more favorably of Mr. Bush, compared with 36 percent less favorably. Clinton's numbers were better: 36 percent more favorable, 29 percent less favorable. For Perot, 60 percent said they think more favorably of him, 12 percent less favorably.
In a CNN-USA Today poll, 12 percent said the debate made them switch their preference, and for more than half the switch was to Perot. Re-interviewing voters who had been polled before the debate, Gallup found significant increases in their view of Perot as the best candidate to handle the economy and budget deficit. An ABC News poll measured preferences before and after the debate. Bush's support was unchanged at 29 percent; Clinton's dropped from 52 percent to 48 percent; and Perot's rose from 11 perce nt to 19 percent.
ABC asked "who won?" and 36 percent said Clinton, 26 percent Perot, 21 percent Bush. Twelve percent called it a tie. "Who did the best job?" was the question posed by CBS, CNN-USA Today, and NBC. CBS got a Clinton-Perot tie at 30 percent, with 23 percent for Bush. CNN-USA Today came in with 37 percent for Perot, and 28 percent each for Bush and Clinton. Clinton had 35 percent, Perot got 30 percent, and Bush 23 percent in the NBC poll.