Sen. Kamala Harris soundly defeated Vice President Mike Pence in CNN’s instant poll on the 2020 vice presidential debate, besting him by 21 percentage points, 59% to 38%.
The snap poll of debate watchers came just over an hour past the end of the 90-minute debate on Wednesday and continued the Democratic ticket’s success from the first presidential debate, which CNN’s poll found Joe Biden won handily, 60% to 28%.
Back in 2016, Pence edged then-vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, 48% to 42%, in that election cycle’s lone VP debate.
Speaking with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, network analyst David Chalian explained that the poll only sampled those who watched the debate and not the general public.
“I want to remind you this is a poll of debate watchers, of those folk who is watched the debate tonight,” he said. “And our sample of folks who watched the debate tonight leans a little more Democratic, about 38% Democrats, 33% Independent, 29% Republicans. So, the audience was a bit more Democratic.”
But the results, he noted, did not fall to mere partisan lines.
“Kamala Harris, the clear winner according to debate watchers in our flash poll, 59% say she won the debate tonight. 38% say Mike Pence won the debate tonight,” he explained. “And here’s some evidence to back that up. What winning a debate means? Improving your position from where you went in. Take a look. We asked about whether people had a favorable opinion before the debate of both candidates and after.
Look at the progress Harris made. Before the debate, 58% had a favorable opinion of her. After the debate, 63%. Mike Pence held steady. He didn’t lose ground but didn’t make up any ground.: 41% before the debate favorable and 41% after the debate favorable.”
On the qualification question, however, the two candidates scored equally as well.
“Can they step into the top job? 63%, nearly two thirds of debate watchers, say Kamala Harris is ready and qualified to be president,” Chalian added. “And Mike Pence, the sitting Vice President of the United States, he scores equally as well in that category, 65% say he is ready and qualified to be president, only 34% said that he is not.”