Following this week’s vice-presidential debate, viewers were divided over which candidate they believed came out on top.
According to a Morning Consult poll conducted in the wake of Wednesday’s matchup, however, a majority of respondents pointed to Vice President Mike Pence as more prepared for the presidency than Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, as reported by Breitbart.
Interestingly, a slight majority of viewers surveyed by the same polling firm felt that Harris was the winner of the debate.
More than 6 in 10 respondents said Pence is prepared for the position of commander in chief, compared to Harris, for whom just 53% said the same.
Among a smaller sample of individuals who actually watched the debate, the numbers were much closer. Sixty percent of those respondents said Pence was ready for the presidency — a slim one-point lead over Harris.
About half of those surveyed said they had not heard enough about Harris’ policy positions on issues including gun control, healthcare, the economy, and immigration. A smaller number similarly expressed a dearth of information about Pence’s stance on the coronavirus and abortion.
While a range of polls found varying levels of support for both candidates, USA Today earned some unflattering attention for promoting a flash poll on social media that completely omitted Pence as a choice. Instead, the outlet listed Harris, Biden, and a fly that landed on Pence’s head as the only options for participants to choose as the debate’s winner.
“Abrasive and condescending”
A short time later, USA Today responded to the criticism with a followup social-media poll poking fun at itself.
“Is this a corrected poll because USA TODAY messed up the first one?” the prompt asked. Both possible answers were “yes.”
The overwhelming attention on that fly, some GOP pundits argued, was evidence that Pence outperformed expectations.
“The best proof that Pence won the debate is how much the major media are talking about the damn fly,” said Media Research Center’s DanGainor in a Fox News interview. “These so-called serious journalists demand we focus on policy and then when their candidate gets crushed on TV they want to talk about nonsense.”
As for Harris, pollster Frank Luntz conducted a post-debate focus group during which a primary complaint was “that she was abrasive and condescending.”