About half of Americans believe Kamala Harris is a better debater than Mike Pence

Jamie BallardData Journalist
August 13, 2020, 7:00 PM UTC

Earlier this week, presumptive Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. Shortly after the announcement, the current vice president, Mike Pence, said in an interview that he’s looking forward to the vice presidential debate in Utah this fall.  

"I think she is a skilled debater, but I can't wait to get to Salt Lake City and be on the stage — whether to compare Joe Biden's nearly 50 years in public life, the agenda of the radical left, the agenda that she's embraced throughout her political career — with the results of this president and this administration," Pence told Fox News host Sean Hannity. 

What do Americans think of the respective vice presidential candidates’ debate skills?  

poll conducted by YouGov in August 2020 finds that about half (51%) of US adults believe  Harris is a better debater, while about one-quarter (26%) say  Pence is. Another 23 percent are unsure.  

There are some partisan splits: Republicans (69%) are nearly ten times as likely as Democrats (7%) to say they believe Pence is a better debater. Conversely, Democrats (82%) are much more likely than Republicans (12%) to say Harris is a better debater. Among Independents, Harris (42%) comes out ahead of Pence (25%).  

similar poll from July 2020 found that just under half (48%) of Americans believe Joe Biden is a better debater than Donald Trump. One-third (33%) say Trump is a better debater. More than eight in 10 (85%) Republicans say that Trump is a better debater, while 80 percent of Democrats say that Biden is. Independents are very closely divided on this question: 35 percent say Trump is the better debater, while 38 percent believe it’s Biden.  

The vice presidential debate is scheduled for October 7 and will be hosted at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City. 
 
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Related: Pence vs. Harris – Who do Americans favor? 

Methodology: The survey question, “Regardless of which vice presidential candidate you prefer, who do you think is a better debater?” was asked of 7,023 US adults ages 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online August 12 – 13, 2020. The survey question, “Regardless of which candidate you prefer, who do you think is a better debater?” was asked of 8,659 US adults ages 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online July 29 – 30, 2020. Results from both questions are weighted to be nationally representative.