We reported yesterday that 40 percent of Americans couldn’t even name vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, and that was evident in the ratings. Last night’s vice presidential debate draw in an audience of 36 million, which is the lowest since 2000, when Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman drew in 29 million.
Admittedly, I (Matt Palumbo) had thought there would be more interest in the VP debate. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have historically high unfavorability ratings, so I figured many would be looking towards the vice presidential candidates to try to sway their vote in one direction or another. While the audience was relatively small, those who did watch became more likely to vote for Trump after seeing how Kaine conducted himself.
The CNN/ORG instant poll of vice presidential primarily Democrat debate watchers, shows Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana topped Democratic candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (VA). Some 29 percent said they moved toward voting for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after the exchange.
Despite the Democrat-heavy audience displayed in the new poll, 48 percent said Pence won the debate over Kaine. Only 42 percent of those debate watchers said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s running mate won.
Forty-percent of those registered voters surveyed said they were Democrats, 30 percent Republican and 29 percent unaffiliated or part of another party.
Almost 30 percent of respondents said they were more likely to vote for Trump after watching the debate, while just 18 percent said they moved toward Clinton. An original image broadcast by CNN of the numbers of debate watchers that moved toward voting for Clinton or Trump after watching the vice presidential candidates were reversed, showing more moving toward Clinton; however, a CNN reporter corrected the numbers after they had been posted to the screen and revealed that the true result. More than half of debate watchers surveyed said “neither” when asked who the debate made them likely to vote for.
Kaine was agressive in the exchange, and it may have cost him. He jumped from 28 percent “unfavorable” before the debate to 40 percent after. While 16 percent of those asked weren’t sure if they saw Kaine as favorable or unfavorable before the debate, only 4 percent were unsure after.
Some 43 percent of respondents said Kaine did worse than expected compared to 38 percent that he did better and 15 that said he did the same as expected.
Pence was seen as doing better than expected by two-thirds of those polled while only 14 percent said worse and 15 percent said he performed the same as expected.
I guess it’s a shame there are two more presidential debates — and no more vice presidential debates. Hopefully Kaine can’t keep his mouth shut on the campaign trail, either.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]