Voters traditionally don’t make their decisions on whom to vote for based on vice presidential debates. But given the relatively advanced ages of President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, new polling suggests this cycle may be different.
According to a new survey from The Harris Poll provided exclusively to the Washington Examiner, 69% of the electorate said that the vice presidential picks of Biden, 77, and Trump, 74, influence their vote in November. Among Republicans, that number is as high as 75%, and for Democrats, it’s 72%.
The Harris Poll conducted its survey from Oct. 1-3 among a nationally representative sample of 1,976 adults.
Following the chaotic first debate between Trump and Biden, the former vice president and 36-year Delaware senator, voters are anticipating more substance Wednesday nightfrom Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris.
The poll showed that 48% of voters said they thought the vice presidential debate would do a better job addressing the issues than the first presidential debate, during which Trump dominated the microphones and Biden frequently yelled back. A small minority, 12%, thought the vice presidential candidates would do worse, and 40% said they thought Harris and Pence would do about the same job.
Wednesday night’s debate, the first time Pence and Harris will face off in person since the campaign began, will feature the two separated by a large plexiglass barrier. The new precautions are the latest consequence of Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis. The debate commission also mandated that the two sit 13 feet apart rather than the typical 7 feet.
With Trump currently recovering from COVID-19 and Biden still not committing to serving two terms as president, the duties of the vice president have arguably never been more important in modern political history.
And voters seem to agree with that assessment and think the vice presidential candidates this time around will play an important role in crafting policy over the next four years. The Harris Poll reported that 83% said the role of the vice president is “important,” 88% said the country needs a vice president, and 68% said the vice president has an influence on decisions made in the United States.
Among past vice presidents, more adults said Biden was the most important than any other in the past 10 administrations, with 36% of respondents saying he was “the most influential during their time as vice president.” Only 34% answered George H.W. Bush, and 26% said Pence. Another 16% said they “do not believe any of the last 10 vice presidents were among the most influential during their time,” and Walter Mondale, Spiro Agnew, and Dan Quayle were considered the least influential, all receiving 7% support from respondents.