Feedback from a focus group that viewed Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate revealed that no amount of accusations of mansplaining or fixation on flying insects could hide the reality that Sen. Kamala Harris made a particularly poor showing. Participants in the group found Harris to be “abrasive and condescending” at different points during the debate while they viewed Vice President Mike Pence more favorably.
Pollster Frank Luntz monitored the group of 15 voters. “The complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was abrasive and condescending,” he explained in an appearance on Fox News. The group consisted of voters from eight battleground states.
When it came to rating Pence, participants were a little more complimentary. “The complaint about Mike Pence was that he was too tired, but [he was] vice-presidential, or presidential,” Luntz pointed out. He then suggested that “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 also clarified, noting that “it’s not that Pence did so well, it’s that they [voters] felt both candidates were not answering the questions as well as they would have liked.”
The focus group preferred the tenor of the vice presidential debate to the first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Participants seemed happy that Pence and Harris were obviously more cordial to one another than Trump and Biden had been the week prior.
“They really did not like the ducking of questions,” Luntz observed, “but they were so much happier with this debate than they were the first one. 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.'”
The focus group also communicated their points of frustration with both candidates. Luntz mentioned that voters were irritated with Pence for frequently talking for longer than his allotted time allowed. Conversely, he noted that “Harris’ reactions to Pence — the smiling, the smirking, the scowling,” made them “angrier” with her conduct.
“Voters do not like it when candidates run long, and when they run long every time, they think that’s an example of being undisciplined and unfocused,” he acknowledged. “However, they were more agitated with Kamala’s presentation than they were with Mike Pence.”
Luntz concluded that “Mike Pence was the winner of tonight’s confrontation.”
The individuals who participated in the focus group did not express anything revelatory in their opinions about Harris; These are criticisms that she has received previously. Many have stated that she comes off as fake and insincere. The left will undoubtedly pretend that negative views of the senator are due to deep-seated sexism inherent in anyone who would dare to criticize a female Democrat.
But the truth of the matter is that Harris just does not come off well when she is in this format. She seems to do fine when giving speeches, but she seems to have trouble connecting to the audience when she interacts publicly with interviewers or political opponents.
Of course, her not-so-flattering traits might not be much of a factor in this election. As I’ve stated previously, Biden’s campaign selected Harris because they want to appeal to white suburban women, preferable those who are political moderates. This is a voting group that President Trump has failed to win over so far this election season. The senator provides another reason for this group of voters to pull the lever for Biden in November.
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