Online Staff Report
Vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz had her hands full Thursday evening, Oct. 11, as Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Republican vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., went head-to-head in their only debate of the season. (Click here for transcript.)
The two candidates exchanged jabs in an often contentious debate. Biden, in particular, went on the offensive, attempting to make up ground lost by President Barack Obama’s lackluster performance in the first presidential debate Oct. 3.
Biden, known for his off-the-cuff personality, was all Biden Oct. 11 — blunt, to the point and aggressive.
Trying to stop a 4-percentage-point drop in the polls following the Oct. 3 presidential debate, Biden repeatedly attacked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plans and regularly interrupted Ryan or otherwise expressed his feelings toward Ryan’s responses by smiling, making faces or gesturing. Ryan also offered his share of interruptions and smirks throughout the debate.
According to many pundits following the debate, Biden’s tactics, in particular, may have worked.
As Chris Cillizza wrote on the Washington Post’s “The Fix”: “Biden and Ryan repeatedly savaged one another over everything from Iran to the economy and back — interrupting, smirking and laughing out loud as the other man tried to make his points.
“We live-tweeted every minute — nay, every second — of the proceedings but also took a few notes about the highs and the lows of the night,” Cillizza added. “Our winners and losers are below. One person you won’t find in our winners and losers is Ryan. The debate was SO dominated by Biden — for good and for bad — that Ryan was largely a bystander. If you liked aggressive Biden, that makes Ryan a loser. If you don’t like aggressive Biden, that makes Ryan a winner.”
Read Cillizza’s winners and losers here.
Two surveys released after the debate showed both candidates made strong impressions, although they differed on which candidate performed better.
A CNN survey of 381 registered voters found Ryan the winner, 48-44 percent. The survey also showed respondents thought Ryan communicated more clearly (50-41 percent) and that Ryan was more likable (53-43 percent).
The CNN survey showed respondents thought both Ryan (60-37 percent) and Biden (57-42 percent) were qualified to be president. Meantime, 55 percent thought Biden performed better than expected, 26 percent thought he did worse and 18 percent thought he did the same as expected, while 51 percent thought Ryan did better than expected, 19 percent worse and 28 percent the same as expected.
According to CNN, more Republicans (33 percent) watched the debate than Democrats (31 percent), with 31 percent identified as independents. The discrepancy could give Republicans a slight edge in the CNN survey results.
A CBS News poll of 431 uncommitted voters showed respondents thought Biden was the winner of the debate, 50-31 percent, with 19 percent called it a tie.
Prior to the debate, 39 percent of respondents in the CBS News poll believed Biden had the ability to be an effective president. Following the debate, 56 percent believed he had the ability to be an effective president. Meantime, Ryan also saw an increase in the same category, increasing from 45 percent before the debate to 49 percent after.
Respondents found Biden more knowledgeable on the issues than Ryan, 85-75 percent. And the debate worked for both candidates in terms of whether voters could relate to the candidates. Biden’s “relatability” mark increased from 34 percent before the debate to 55 percent after, and Ryan’s increased from 31 percent before to 48 after.
According to CBS, 58 percent of their poll respondents identified as independents, 17 percent as Republicans and 25 percent as Democrats.
The Huffington Post reported: “Evidence from previous races suggests that even when one candidate clearly dominates in the vice presidential debate, it is unlikely to be so much of a game-changer. Although some vice presidential debates have influenced a news cycle or two, research by political scientist Thomas Holbrook has found that even the most highly publicized debates make little impact on the campaign as a whole. Likewise, historical data provided by Gallup shows that vice presidential debates make ‘almost no difference’ in changing vote preference after the debate.”
An Oct. 12 Rasmussen Tracking poll showed Romney edging Obama 48-47 percent, the same results of an Oct. 11 Gallup Tracking poll.
Romney and Obama will square off in their second debate of the season from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (Central), Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will serve as moderator. The debate will be a town hall meeting format, including foreign and domestic policy issues.
Obama has pledged to be more aggressive in the next presidential debate, after being what he called “too polite” in the first debate. His approval rating stood at 50-49 percent in an Oct. 12 Rasmussen Reports poll and 52-43 percent in an Oct. 11 Gallup poll.
The final presidential debate of the season will be from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (Central), Monday, Oct. 22, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Moderator will be Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s Face the Nation. Topic will be foreign policy.
The Nov. 6 General Election is now 24 days away.
Posted Oct. 12, 2012