What voters thought of the dueling presidential town halls

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
Jamie BallardData Journalist
Linley SandersData Journalist
October 16, 2020, 3:47 AM UTC

A snap poll conducted by YouGov immediately after the Donald Trump and Joe Biden town halls sheds light on how voters felt about the dueling televised events.

Overall, 14% of registered voters said they watched President Trump’s town hall in Miami on NBC, 17% said they watched Biden’s on ABC in Philadelphia, and 15% of voters watched portions of both town halls. Viewership of the two events was predictably split along party lines31% of Democrats watched Biden exclusively and 28% of Republicans watched just Trump. 

It appears Biden’s town hall was slightly more effective in swaying voters. Of those voters who watched both town halls, half (50%) said the Biden town hall made them view the former vice president somewhat or much more favorably, while 39% of those voters said so of the president.
 
Among those who watched both town halls, three in five (60%) thought Joe Biden was at least mostly honest, while a third (33%) thought he was mostly or completely dishonest. Half (50%) of those who watched both events perceived Trump as honest, while about as many (48%) said he was dishonest. 

Generally speaking, those who tuned in to watch Trump’s town hall were split on whether or not he did a good job answering questions (42% said good, 42% said bad) and 15% said his responses were neither good nor bad. Among Biden’s viewers, 52% thought the former vice president did a good job, while 28% thought he did a bad job, and 18% were on the fence.

The tandem town halls were scheduled after the second presidential debate was canceled. Of those who tuned into Biden’s appearance, about three in five (62%) thought he performed better at the town hall than at the first presidential debate, while just 17% thought he had a better showing at the first debate. About half (51%) of Trump’s audience thought he did better tonight at the town hall, while 20% thought he performed better at the debate. 

Among registered voters who managed to watch portions of both events, 56% said that it was wrong for the two town halls to be held at the same time and broadcast on different networks. About one-third (33%) think it was the right decision.  

Half (50%) of those who watched Trump’s town hall say it was the right choice for the two events to be held at the same time and broadcast on different networks, while 40% say it was wrong.  

Among those voters who watched Biden’s town hall, 72% say it was wrong for these to be held at the same time on different networks. About one in six (16%) think it was right. 

The third presidential debate is still scheduled, and many voters think it should still take place, either virtually or in person. A majority (59%) of those who watched both candidates’ town halls think next week’s debate should still happen. About one-quarter (26%) of this group thinks that the debate should be replaced by a single town hall event, and just 4% would like to see another evening with two separate town hall events. 

About two-thirds (67%) of those who watched Trump’s town hall say that next week’s debate should still take place. Another 18% of this group says the debate should be replaced by a singular town hall event. 

About half (48%) of those who watched Biden’s town hall think that next week’s debate should happen. The remainder think that the debate should be replaced with a single town hall (20%), separate town hall events (10%), or canceled altogether and not replaced with anything (18%). 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this YouGov Snap Poll

Methodology: YouGov polled 2,023 registered voters on October 15 between 9:35 p.m. and 10:23 p.m. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted on age, gender, education level, political affiliation and ethnicity to be nationally representative of adults in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty