VP debate improves views of Harris

FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll conducted after the VP debate shows most Americans were happy with the debate, both candidates’ performance

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, October 8, 2020

A new FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll shows Kamala Harris’ favorability rating improved in the hours immediately following the VP debate, while Vice President Mike Pence’s standing is unchanged. However, a majority of Americans say each candidate had a good performance and that the debate itself was good.  

  1. After the debate, half of Americans view Kamala Harris favorably (41% unfavorable). This five percentage point increase in Harris’ favorable rating comes primarily from a growth in the number of people who say they have a “very favorable” opinion. Vice President Mike Pence’s standing remains unchanged, and net-negative (39% favorable – 53% unfavorable).
  2. A majority of debate watchers rated both candidates’ debate performances as good: 69% for Harris, 59% for Pence. However, only Harris earns positive marks when it comes to rating her answers, specifically in terms of the policies outlined. Sixty-two percent said Harris outlined good policies, compared to 44% for Pence. Overall, a strong majority (81%) rated the vice presidential debate positively.
  3. The debate, like last week, did little to move the needle. The number of Americans certain to vote for Biden and Trump remains exactly the same as it was in the pre-debate poll.

For additional analysis, visit FiveThirtyEight.

Washington, DC, October 6, 2020

Ahead of the first, and only, vice presidential debate, a new FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll shows that the American public views Kamala Harris more favorably than Vice President Mike Pence. Though the impact each vice presidential candidate has on making people feel safe is somewhat mixed, slightly more Americans report feeling more safe with Harris as veep, compared to Pence.

  1. Harris’ personal standing is positive, but not overwhelmingly so. Currently, 45% feel favorable toward her, and 40% feel unfavorable. In contrast, more Americans feel negative toward Pence (51%) than positive (37%). The favorability ratings for the vice presidential candidates follow a similar pattern to those of the presidential candidates (Biden 50% favorable, Trump 37% favorable).
  2. Americans are evenly split on whether Harris would make them feel more (34%) or less (35%) safe as vice president. Fewer, 26%, would feel more safe with Pence continuing as their vice president, while 35% also say Pence would make them feel less safe.
  3. All other measures we tracked before and after the first presidential debate – the main issues facing the country, likelihood to vote for a presidential candidate, and whether the election will be free and fair – remain unchanged from last week.

About the Study

Wave 1 of this FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos October 7th Vice Presidential Debate poll was conducted September 30th to October 6, 2020 and Wave 2 was conducted October 7th to October 8th, 2020 by Ipsos using our KnowledgePanel®. Wave 1 of this poll was based on a nationally-representative probability sample of 2,994 adults age 18 or older. Wave 2 was administered to those who completed the Wave 1 poll. A total of 1,725 adults participated in the Wave 2 poll.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households are randomly sampled from all available households in the U.S. All persons in selected households are invited to join and participate in KnowledgePanel. Ipsos provides selected households that do not already have internet access a tablet and internet connection at no cost to them. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methods, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The study was conducted in both English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, and party identification. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2020 March supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS). Party ID benchmarks are from recent ABC News/Washington Post telephone polls. The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Something else)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.0 percentage points for Wave 1 and plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for Wave 2 at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.23 for Wave 1 and 1.35 for Wave 2. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs