Former Vice President Mike Pence has not seen a precipitous loss in support after his recent debate performance—but his chances of winning the presidency are unlikely.
- On Friday, Jul 14, Blaze TV hosted a series of discussions between former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and current presidential candidates, including Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy.
- Carlson grilled several of the candidates over controversial issues such as January 6 and Ukraine, with former Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly deflecting several of his questions.
- Pence flubbed a controversial question when Carlson asked him if he cared more about funding Ukraine than fixing American poverty and blight, unintentionally implying that America’s domestic issues were “not my concern.”
- Pence also drew boos from the crowd over his repeated pro-military messages and moderate stances. Nikki Haley drew similar negative reactions and scrutiny for her stance in defending the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
- The performance is not reflected in recent polls. According to FiveThirtyEight, Pence’s stance in the polls has largely remained unchanged, dropping from 7.4% on Friday to 7.3% on Tuesday. Morning Consult noted no change in his polls between Friday and Sunday, remaining steady at 7%.
Why It’s Important
Friday’s debate proved to be less of a moment for the Republican candidates to show their abilities than it was a chance for Tucker Carlson to prove that he is the kingmaker of modern conservatism and a leading voice for the future of the movement. DeSantis and Ramaswamy had more relaxed conversations with Carlson, with both candidates generally agreeing more strongly with his viewpoints, but Carlson heavily scrutinized candidates for perceived weakness over issues like Ukraine and election integrity.
Carlson addressed the debate on Saturday at a Turning Point USA speaking event, noting that he was tempted to “savage” Pence, but says he held back “because it’s too easy.” He continues, “You don’t feel good when you beat your five-year-old in soccer or ping-pong.”
“Tucker Carlson is good at what he does. I think some of Pence’s responses—for a vice president to get boos, audible boos, from the audience? That’s a big deal. I even heard one pastor friend of mine say, ‘His campaign’s over,’” Fort Des Moines Church of Christ Pastor and debate attendee Mike Demastus tells Newsweek.
Backing Up A Bit
Mike Pence remains the third most popular candidate in the race, behind Florida Governor DeSantis (21.5%) and former President Trump (50.4%), according to FiveThirtyEight. Unfortunately, whatever benefit he will receive from limited damage to his poll numbers may not be enough to keep his campaign afloat. The campaign has only fundraised raised $1.2 million since his announcement on June 7, which means he does not currently qualify for the first GOP primary debate on August 23.
The Iowa Caucuses are not until January 15, 2024—six months away—and a great deal can happen in that time. Trump is facing his third criminal indictment that could damage his election prospects. DeSantis has fired many of campaign staff and may relaunch his campaign to better compete against Trump. It is unclear if Trump or DeSantis will stand out as the likely frontrunner, but it appears Pence will remain a distant third if he is able to continue his campaign.