CNN’s snap poll after Wednesday’s vice presidential debate showed Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) handily winning the showdown, with 59 percent picking her as the victor versus 38 percent who named Vice President Mike Pence. But at CNN’s watch party for undecided voters in Arizona, it was a 4-4 tie — though the two participants who first said there was a clear winner at all both though Harris won.
The voters reacted to the debate with a dial, and there was really only one moment where the dial went up, CNN’s Sara Sidner said, and it was when Harris criticized the Trump administration for being dishonest about COVID-19. CNN showed the moment and the lines, but when Sidner asked some participants to explain why they had reacted that way in real time, their answers didn’t really track.
Sidner did not ask specifically about how Harris performed, but she got a mixed, mostly negative bag of responses when she asked respondents to describe Pence’s showing in one word. There were three positive responses — “polished” and “confident” twice — and lots of more negative reactions: “shifty,” “evasive,” “stubborn,” “not sincere,” “calculated,” and “overtime — he kept stealing her time.” One undecided voter went down the middle, calling Pence “consistent, because there was nothing new, no surprises.”