Joe Frissora, president of the Northeastern University College Republicans, said he thought the debate "went fairly well" for Trump.
Noting earlier that Trump "came out calm" before "getting bolder as the night goes on," Frissora said he thought the GOP nominee did well in calling out foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and laughing off a comment about his previously criticizing the Emmy selection process.
While Wednesday's debate started off largely civil and focused on policy before getting more heated, it was still relatively calm compared to the second debate on Oct. 9, which was a tense affair and grew bitterly personal at times.
Of the small number of college Republicans who came to the Northeastern debate watch party, most were quick to laud the start of Trump's performance. With many students in the room laughing at some of Trump's remarks, the Republicans were clearly the minority in the room.
Nafisa Kabir, a Republican club member wearing a Trump T-shirt, said she liked that Trump was taking an offensive tack and "bringing up things that people don't talk about with Hillary.
However, she did note she was "not 100 percent about his terminology" shortly after Trump said "we have some bad hombres here" while discussing immigration.
Overall, Kabir said Trump won and that he kept his poise during a debate that grew contentious toward the end. She also said Trump's statement from the debate stage in which he did not commit to accepting the results of the election was fair.
Complimenting parts of Trump's closing statement in which he called for a stronger military and improved care for veterans, Aubrey Kenderdine, the Republican club's student government association representative, also said she thought Trump won—and earlier in the debate said he was acting "very presidential."
There were some young Republicans who thought the debate did not fully go Trump's way. Olivia Lanagan, vice president of the Boston College Republicans, wrote in an email that neither candidate "outperformed the other."
"Secretary Clinton made it clear that if she is elected, the next four years will be a continuation of the last eight under Obama. She did not offer any new plans or ideas," Lanagan—who said she does not plan to vote for either major party presidential candidate—wrote. "As for Trump, this was certainly his strongest debate performance. He had several strong attacks on Secretary Clinton, and advocated for several new policy proposals... However, he hit a low point when he would not commit to accepting the results of the election."
Though the students praised Trump's performance, they were skeptical of whether it would sway any voters.
"At this point everybody's set where they are," Frissora said.
The praises of Northeastern's College Republicans stands in contrast to some broader trends. Over the course of his campaign, Trump has upended traditional political coalitions and divided elements of the Republican Party. Particularly for younger voters, his candidacy has proved particularly unattractive.