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‘Disastrous’ debate for Trump, but chance for recovery: Political analyst

Sabato: A 'disastrous' debate for Trump

Hillary Clinton won the first presidential debate "hands down," but Donald Trump has a chance to correct what was a "disastrous" performance for him in the next two debates, veteran political analyst Larry Sabato said Tuesday.

That's because Clinton will likely only gain a point or two in the polls since there are not many undecided voters left to pick up, and Trump supporters will still back him, the director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

"Remember what he said — you go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and they'd all still support him. Well, losing a debate is a lot less serious than shooting somebody. They're not going anywhere," he said.

Trump made those comments in January at a rally in Iowa, telling the crowd, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, OK, and I wouldn't lose any voters."

Republican nominee Donald Trump looks on during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Sabato said the conclusion about Monday night's debate was an easy one to make, noting that he has watched every single presidential debate since they started in 1960.

"This was the most one-sided debate ever. It doesn't even come close."

He believes Clinton's win doesn't come down to any one particular moment. Instead, Trump's reaction throughout the debate is key.

"A large majority of Americans do not believe that Donald Trump has the temperament to be president. All you had to do is watch 10 or 15 minutes — any 10 or 15 minutes — of this debate and Donald Trump answered that question. But not in the way he had hoped to," he pointed out.

While Clinton will probably only pick up a point or two in the polls, it will help her break the tie in any of the swing states where she has fallen "dangerously," Sabato said.

However, it's still a long way to Election Day, with two more presidential debates on the horizon, he noted.

"I wouldn't be shocked if whatever Hillary Clinton gains she loses in time if she can't sustain this in the next two presidential debates."