About three in five voters will be watching the vice-presidential candidates debate tonight, and they give California Senator Kamala Harris the edge over her Republican rival, Vice President Mike Pence.
Joe Biden’s running mate is expected to win the debate by 40% of voters, to one-third (34%) who believe Pence will do better. The remaining 26% are unsure.
Both sides are about equally confident in their candidate: 81% of Trump supporters expect Pence to come out on top, while 77% of Biden supports say the same of Harris.
This is noticeably different to attitudes prior to the first presidential debate, when Biden supporters were more nervous than the President’s voters about their candidate’s chances. Before the debate 70% of Biden supporters thought he would win, compared to 85% of Trump’s voters for their guy. After the debate, Trump voters are less likely to claim their candidate won, by 74% to 83%.
Favorable ratings of both Harris and the Vice President are similar. In each case, slightly more are unfavorable than favorable towards each candidate. Pence has an advantage when it comes to being thought of as qualified to serve as President, if necessary. He has, of course, been serving as the person next in line for nearly four years.
More see Harris as a strong leader than say that about Pence. In fact, more say Harris is a strong leader than say that about the presidential contenders as well (as has been the case in previous polls). Just about half call President Trump, Biden, and Pence strong leaders. 56% say that about Harris.
Two-thirds say Harris is a liberal; three in four say Pence is a conservative.
Although undeterred from watching the vice-presidential debate, viewers did not enjoy the first presidential debate. It left a bad taste in the mouths of viewers: 70% of Trump supporters as well as 83% of Biden voters said last week’s meeting was “annoying.” The number saying it left them “pessimistic” outnumbered those who said they were “optimistic” by more than three to one. Fewer than one in ten left the presidential debate either inspired or informed (though one in five were “entertained”).
There was surprisingly little difference between Biden voters and Trump voters in their responses about how they felt about the first debate.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 registered voters interviewed online between October 4–6, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 4.5% for the overall sample.