Okay, so last night we had the vice presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky.
This time around, it was way more lively than the first presidential debate. And really, it’d almost have to be. Ryan and Biden sparred over a wide variety of topics.
And there was a lot of giggling.
So, here are some things you should know now that the debate is over.
The Polls Are All Over The Place
There are plenty of snap polls around, and if you look at them all together, you’ll find that Ryan won, Biden won, they both won and they both lost. CBS News says Biden overwhelmingly won. CNN says Ryan won but Biden made a good showing. Fox News says Ryan won hands down.
That’s about as close to a tie as you can get.
They Were Both Kinda Fibbing
It’s politics, so keeping things in context — or placing things in a favorable context — is important.
That said, thus far, the claims Politifact have investigated are, at best, half true. Some quick bits on that:
- Congressman Ryan said Obama promised unemployment would never go above eight percent. Mostly False. Those were economic projections with a lot of caveats that things could get worse outside the control of the government. They never promised anything.
- Vice President Biden said that the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan would “eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.” Half True. Medicare is not a “guarantee.” Right now it is, but Congress and the President can — and will have to — adjust to economic factors.
- Ryan said, in characterizing Iran’s perception of US/Israel’s relationship, that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu were in NYC for the United Nations meetings the same day, but Obama snubbed him to go on a TV show. False. They were never there on the same day. Same week, but Obama was gone long before Netanyahu came to town.
- Biden said that Romney said in response to the auto manufacturing crisis to “let [Detroit] go bankrupt.” Half-True. While Romney did say that, in context it was significantly more nuanced and he was not intending on letting the industry die.
They Were Both Kinda Rude
“Disrespectful” is the word you’re going to read and hear a lot from pundits, at least until the second presidential debate. The fact of the matter is, Congressman Ryan and Vice President Biden were both a little dickish to one another. Biden would interrupt a hell of a lot, and Ryan would call Biden “Joe,” instead of “Mr. Vice President.” which is something Mitt Romney would never do.
And they were both snickering at weird times and intervals.
So when you hear a pundit call one of them “disrespectful,” keep in mind that the other was no better.
The Polls Won’t Change Much
At least, that’s my prediction. There won’t be a sudden stabilizing of polls one way or the other. We’re in October, we got a few short weeks before the election. Battleground states are going to jump back and forth over the line between the two tickets, and a lot of them are going to stay within the margin of error.
Win Or Lose, Biden Got The Liberals Back
Whether you think he won or lost the debate, in the pre-debate talk the one thing being kicked around as critical to the campaign was the idea of “energy.” George Stephanopoulos noted the difference in age between the two candidates, and said if Biden appeared old and tired compared to the young and energetic Ryan, the campaign could keep going Romney’s way.
The one thing you couldn’t say about the Vice President was that he seemed tired. He was in Ryan’s face the entire time. Much of Obama’s liberal base had been disappointed in the lack of energy from their candidate, and the VP debate illustrated that Obama’s performance earlier was a misstep, not a trend. Conservatives aren’t buying it, but the liberal base regained some of the enthusiasm they lost just a week prior.
This Debate Was For Campaign Ads
No one was looking for a knock-out punch. What the campaigns were looking for were statements that could contradict previous votes and positions, so that they could cut it together and put it in an advertisement.
If you’re in a battleground state, expect to see some of those statements pop up in ads.
Ryan Held The Line
Congressman Ryan’s job was not to win, but to stay out of the way and see if the Vice President would hang himself. While Biden didn’t drop any whoppers like they hoped, Ryan didn’t appear to embarrass the campaign and kill Romney’s competitive margin.
Whether what he said will turn up in effective pro-Obama ads (or vice versa) is yet to be seen, but no one came out of the debate thinking he tanked the campaign, and certainly held the Vice President off significantly better than 2008′s Sarah Palin.
Lastly: Ryan Also Kept His Career Alive
Ryan has a secondary objective that no other candidate has: he’s still got a career. The Congressman is also running for re-election in his Janesville district of Wisconsin, where he’s overwhelmingly dominating the polls. On the national stage last night, he was more likely than not speaking to more of his constituents at one time than ever before.
Should the Romney/Ryan ticket lose, he’d have to account for everything he said to his district. Last night’s performance showed that he’s going to keep his seat if he doesn’t become Vice President. We’re going to have a lot of years with Paul Ryan in government service.
And that’s it for the roundup!
Question: Now that you’ve had a bit of time to think, has your opinion of the debate changed?