Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California was more grating than great, according to a focus group that watched Wednesday’s debate between Harris and Vice President Mike Pence.
Pollster Frank Luntz conducted a focus group of 15 undecided voters across eight battleground states during the face-off between Harris and Pence at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
“The complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was abrasive and condescending,” said Luntz, according to Fox News.
Luntz said voters had some negatives about Pence as well.
“The complaint about Mike Pence was that he was too tired, but [he was] vice presidential, or presidential,” the pollster said.
The bottom line, though, was that Pence’s solid performance outdid Harris’ antagonistic approach.
“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,” Luntz said.
“It was clear that Mike Pence was the winner of tonight’s confrontation,” he said.
Pence’s consistent tactics of squeezing in a few extra words as his time expired left some members of the focus group wishing he would play by the rules, Luntz said, but there were far more bothered by the way Harris demeaned him with her theatrical expressions.
“Harris’ reactions to Pence — the smiling, the smirking, the scowling” — left them far “angrier” with her performance, according to the pollster.
“They were more agitated with Kamala’s presentation than they were with Mike Pence,” he said.
Focus group members said the decorum of this debate was better than the one between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, but they wished candidates answered the questions they were asked.
“They really did not like the ducking of questions, but they were so much happier with this debate than they were the first one,” Luntz said. “The first one to them was embarrassing. This one, at least, they had the decorum. But the frustration … was [that] ‘They’re ducking the question, they are pivoting.'”
During the debate, Pence rebuked Harris for the Biden campaign’s plan to raise taxes by abolishing the tax cut Trump approved.
“Joe Biden said twice in the debate last week that he’s going to repeal the Trump tax cuts. That was tax cuts that gave the average working family $2,000 in a tax break every single year,” Pence said, according to USA Today.
“That is absolutely not true,” Harris said.
“Is he only going to repeal part of the Trump tax cuts?” the vice president then asked.
Later in the debate, Pence chided the senator by saying, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”
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