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Poll: Pence is GOP’s 2020 front-runner

A new poll confirms what many observers thought after Tuesday’s vice presidential debate: Indiana GOP Gov. Mike Pence easily won the debate and is now the clear front-runner among Republicans for president in 2020, with 22% support.

According to a poll released Friday by Politico/Morning Consult, if GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump were to lose in 2016, his running mate Pence is the first choice of Republican voters for 2020, followed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. with 14% and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 12%.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio earned 11% support and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had the backing of 7% of GOP voters. Trump, meanwhile, scored 9%.

Pence had a strong debate performance against Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and established himself as a Christian conservative on the national stage. The Indiana governor, who did not run for president in 2016, can claim evangelical support that Cruz in particular focused on in his presidential campaign.

The poll found there was a clear winner of the debate with 38% of voters concluding that Pence trounced Kaine who only had 20% of voters finding that he won.

“Even though the VP debate had about half the audience of the presidential debate, both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine have seen their name recognition go up significantly,” Morning Consult co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp told Politico. “The news is much better for Pence, though. Not only do more voters think he won the debate, his favorability now sits 10 points higher than Kaine’s.” Pence’s favorability rose to 40% from 33% before the debate and Kaine’s increased slightly to 30% from 28%.

The poll of 1,989 registered voters — including 643 Republican voters – was conducted from Oct. 5-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.

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