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Pollster Frank Luntz said Wednesday following a debate between Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris that a group of uncommitted voters clearly believe the night belonged to the vice president.
In an interview with Fox News, Luntz said that the group of 15 voters from eight battleground states gave the nod, collectively, to Pence while alternately describing Harris as “abrasive,” “evasive,” and “unpresidential.”
“They gave us three conclusions,” Luntz said of the undecided voters. “The complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was abrasive and condescending.
“The complaint about Mike Pence was that he was too tired, but vice presidential, or presidential,” Luntz added.
“If this is a battle over style and substance, which is often the case with undecided voters because they simply do not choose on policy — they also choose on persona — this was Mike Pence’s night,” the pollster said.
Pence and Harris met at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday evening in what will be the only vice presidential debate before the Nov. 3 election.
According to observers, each had their good — and bad — moments. For Harris, her most effective response may have come at the outset of the debate when she launched a series of broadsides against the administration’s handling of the coronavirus, which Pence spearheaded at the direction of President Donald Trump.
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” she said.
But other observers believe that Pence was in command of a number of issues including taxes — which Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said he would raise on both earners and corporations — foreign policy, trade, and the pre-pandemic economy.
In a separate video, the 15 swing voters were asked by Luntz to give a short summary of Harris’ performance.
Responses included “evasive,” “nervous,” “focused on the past,” “shifting blame,” “snarky and sarcastic,” and “unpresidential,” among others.
Luntz, in his Fox News interview, noted that the group of voters hit both candidates for failing to directly answer some debate questions.
“They thought that Kamala made a greater effort to take down Donald Trump and the Trump/Pence administration, whereas Mike Pence did a better job in explaining what the … Trump/Pence administration had done,” said Luntz.
The pollster also added that the undecideds “were more upset with Kamala Harris’ reactions to Pence — the smiling, the smirking, the scowling.
“They were angrier at that than they were that Mike Pence went over his time in almost every debate,” Luntz added. “Voters do not like it when candidates run long, and if they run long every time, they think that that’s an example of being undisciplined and unfocused.
“However,” he continued, “they were more agitated with Kamala’s presentation than they were Mike Pence not sticking to time.”
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