America Speaks: What do they say about Mike Pence?

August 28, 2020, 5:30 PM UTC

The vice presidential spotlight has been focused on Kamala Harris in recent weeks, but how does Vice President Mike Pence measure up in the public’s view?

Nearly half (47%) of Americans have an unfavorable view of Pence, according to the latest The Economist/YouGov survey. But when we asked YouGov Chat users if Mike Pence would help or hurt President Donald Trump’s chances of winning the reelection this November, 49 percent said he would help. It’s important to note that the results from the chat are still raw and unweighted. You can share your views on Pence here

“You don't change players when you have a winning team”

Pence fans regularly cited his calm and composed public persona when we asked them to tell us the main reason why they think he will be an asset to Trump’s ticket.  “He's honest, moral, and steady,” one user wrote. Echoing this, another user said Pence will help Trump “because he's calm.” For many, this easy going manner will provide a good counter to Trump’s more unpredictable behavior. “They complement each other.” one user said, “He [Pence] is very solid and a good yin to Trump's yang.” 

Others listed Pence's track record in politics as the main reason why he will be an aid to Trump this fall. “He's been good as VP for four years so four more can't hurt” one user wrote, another said “he is a true statesman and is very experienced as a governor”.

But the most popular reason given by YouGov Chat users for why Pence will help Trump - regardless of whether they approved of him or not - was his appeal to conservative voters. In fact, nearly half of all 2,589 comments made by those who said Pence would be an asset to Trump this November centered on his appeal to the right. A lot of this, unsurprisingly, had to do with his unapologetic evangelical views. 

“He is a soft-spoken, conservative, Christian man who will solidify this part of the Trump-Pence base ,” one user wrote. Others gave the same argument with a less positive spin, saying “he appeals to the stereotypical ‘conservative Republican’” and “he appeals to right-wing Evangelical fanatics. Trump needs these people to vote for him.”

YouGov Chat also asked users to consider the other side of the debate. Users who think Pence will help Trump in his reelection campaign said the strongest reason to think he might actually hurt Trump’s chances was that “he doesn't think for himself” (20%). Another 10 percent said voters might “prefer a different V.P.” 

Kamala will kick his ass in a debate

Nearly one in five YouGov Chat users said Pence would hurt Trump’s chances of winning the election in November (19%). 

Most users argued that Pence’s religious and political views would hinder Trump’s ability to pick up new voters. As one user puts it “he has outdated extremist religious views that aren’t likely to appeal to moderate voters.” Another reasoned that Pence is “...out of touch, too fundamental and on the wrong side of history.” 

Others believe that Pence’s “lack of personality” would be the main reason why he might hurt Trump’s election campaign. “He doesn’t have a strong presence and seems to cater too much to Trump” said one user. A more scathing assessment of Pence’s persona was “[Pence] is like flour...does nothing by itself.” 

A smaller number of users put forward the idea that Pence will damage Trump’s campaign most in the VP debates. “Kamala Harris will chew Pence up and spit him out … if he even debates her. I won't be surprised if he chickens out.” But not everyone shared that opinion. One user argued that Pence “won't go off the tracks as Kamala Harris will”. 

Kamala Harris has slightly more backing from YouGov users right now. When we asked if she would help or hurt Joe Biden’s chances of winning the election in November, over half of respondents said she would help (51%). The vice presidential debate is scheduled to take place on October 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. In the meantime both Harrius and Pence have been sharpening their speaking skills at their respective national conventions. 

YouGov Chat also asked participants who they would prefer in place of Pence. While there was no consensus in the comments, Republican users did offer up a wide variety of candidates. One wrote “only if Condoleezza Rice would consider stepping up as Trump's new VP would I say okay to a switch.” Another listed Candice Owens as the “only person I would wish to see as Trump's running mate."

 
 

Every day, members of YouGov Chat are asked to share their opinion on a topic in the news. We allow anyone to take part in these chats, and do not display or weight results in real-time. Instead, to make the experience informative but still interactive, the chat displays weighted data from YouGov Direct to show them how the rest of the country voted. This enables us to pose the question to all, while retaining data accuracy and validity when communicating results.

YouGov Chat seeks to add to the ‘what?’ (the quantitative poll result) by finding the ‘why?” (qualitative open ends) in a member’s own words. Learn more about YouGov Chat here.