Undecided voters thought Vice President Mike Pence was the clear winner of Wednesday night's debate, according to a focus group conducted by political analyst Frank Luntz.
Luntz, speaking in media interviews after the debate, said his focus group of 15 undecided voters from eight battleground states found Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris to be "abrasive and condescending."
"The complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was abrasive and condescending," Luntz told Fox News. "The complaint about Mike Pence was that he was too tired, but vice presidential or presidential."
"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," Luntz added.
Fox News Democracy 2020: Vice Presidential Debate (clip) (clip): AIR.TV www.air.tv
"I want to emphasize, it's not that Pence did so well, because they felt that both candidates were not answering the questions as well as they would've liked, they thought that Kamala made a greater effort to take down Donald Trump and the Trump/Pence administration, whereas Mike Pence did a better job in explaining what the Trump/Pence administration had done," he said.
Luntz also said his focus group was more upset with Harris' "smiling," "smirking," and "scowling" than Pence going over his time limit.
While he doesn't think the debate by itself will change many undecided voters' minds, Luntz did note that his focus group thought this debate was much better than President Donald Trump's debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, which they characterized as embarrassing.
"The tone and demeanor of the discussion last night was exactly what the American people want," Luntz told CNBC Thursday.
Republican pollster on what undecided voters thought about the vice presidential debate www.youtube.com
On substance, Luntz's focus group thought both candidates spent too much time arguing over the Trump administration's record and not enough time talking about their plans for the future.
"The number one question from them is what's going to happen with the Supreme Court, will Joe Biden try to pack the Supreme Court?" Luntz asked. "Mike Pence did an outstanding job making that an issue yesterday and that is resonating in the minds of the American people today."
On the economy, the focus group said they did not hear a plan from either candidate on how jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic will return.
"Voters aren't looking backwards, they're looking ahead. We know what happened over the last four years. Now tell me what's going to happen over the next four weeks, four months, four years," Luntz said.
You can watch an abridged version of Luntz's focus group here:
Frank Luntz focus group with undecided voters after 2020 VP debate www.youtube.com