Kiwi politicians who watched the Presidential debate have praised Hillary Clinton's "poise" and "dignity" - but aren't sure how much her performance will help in the election.

Act Party leader David Seymour is currently in the United States and watched the debate at Rudy's Bar & Grill in New York. He said the crowd there groaned and laughed at many of Trump's comments.

"As a voter who thinks a lot about politics, I thought Hillary won hands down - she had poise, detail and well-practised one-liners."

However, Seymour said he believed that Trump's performance would nonetheless resonate more with voters who would ultimately decide the election.


"Amongst the people that matter, Trump nailed it. He had real anecdotes, he made more practical points. He had the advantage of being able to say, 'what have you done in the last 30 years?'"

Green Party global affairs spokesman Dr Kennedy Graham said he thought Trump did better than expected.

"But [he] showed his inexperience and aggressiveness by continually butting in, loudly. Clinton did really well, kept her cool, remained on message and nicely balanced between poise and dignity. It goes to Clinton."

National Party MP Chris Bishop also watched the debate and said in a purely debating sense Clinton "was superior by far".

"She was more substantive and lucid and, crucially, she resisted the many opportunities to interrupt Trump - letting his often meandering and sometimes patronising answers speak for themselves.

"But the critical question will be who won over those middle ground voters in the battleground states that decide the election. Polls in the next few days will show whether the debate has made a difference or not."