After President Obama's lackluster performance in the first presidential debate, Democrats were tearing their hair out, wondering if Obama was actually interested in having a second term. He seemed bored and afraid to fight Romney. Those accusations will not be leveled at Joe Biden for his performance in the vice-presidential debate. Biden was at the top of his game, fired up, attacking Rep. Paul Ryan at every turn, and raising all the points Obama failed to raise. He did what Obama should have done and failed to do: fire up his own base while at the same time appearing reasonable to independents.
In 2008, Biden had to be very polite with Sarah Palin, lest he offend women by attacking her. He had no such constraints this time and he hit Ryan over and over. When Ryan said he was against the stimulus, Biden pointed out that the administration received two letters from Ryan personally asking for funds for Wisconsin companies. When Ryan criticized Obama on Iran, Biden asked Ryan to name one thing Romney would actually do differently, and Ryan couldn't. When Ryan said that his voucher program would save Medicare, Biden looked directly into the camera and said: "Who do you trust on this?" When Ryan made the mistake of mentioning President Kennedy, Biden shot back: "So, now you're Jack Kennedy?"
Ryan was pretty much playing defense the whole time. At one point Ryan said something Biden didn't like and Biden called it "malarkey." Instantly, it was the top search term on Google. Biden dominated the stage, constantly interrupting Ryan and talking over him, exactly the same thing Romney did last week to dominate the stage.
Several snap polls were held just after the debate. The OverTheShoulder.com poll showed Biden won the debate 65% to 35%. The CBS/GfK poll of uncomitted voters gave Biden a clear victory of 50% to 31%. However, a CNN/ORC poll of people who watched the debate (not all of whom were necessarily even voters) gave Ryan a slight edge 48% to 44%
What was also noteworthy is what was said in the spin room after the debate. The Democratic spinners talked about how Biden rebutted everything Ryan said on Iran, taxes, abortion, and everything else. Republican spinners didn't talk much about the substance of the debate but focused on criticizing Biden's body language and manner, calling him rude, disrespectful and unprofessional.
The moderator, Martha Raddatz, referred to Ryan as "Mr. Ryan" rather than the normal "congressman" (except one time she slipped up). This form of address was explicitly chosen by Ryan, presumably to avoid reminding the voters that he serves in that loathesome institution, Congress. In contrast, in the first debate, Romney was addressed as "governor." However, Biden kept referring to Ryan as "congressman" and sometimes a sarcastic "my friend," which he is decidedly not.
Except for her one slip-up using the term "congressman," Raddatz was totally in control, unlike presidential debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, who let the candidates trample all over him. Her questions were piercing and to the point and she followed up when she didn't like the answers. Her performance was an order of magnitude better than the hapless Lehrer's.
Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post made up a list of winners and losers:Winners
In the end, we might cite Wm. Shakespeare and describe the debate as "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." People rarely make voting decisions based on who the Vice President would be. Nevertheless, if Biden is able to stop Obama's freefall, he will have bought some time until next Tuesday's debate between the top guys.
|California||53%||39%||Oct 07||Oct 09||SurveyUSA|
|Colorado||47%||48%||Oct 04||Oct 09||Quinnipiac U.|
|Florida||44%||51%||Oct 08||Oct 10||Mason Dixon|
|Florida||48%||47%||Oct 07||Oct 09||Marist Coll.|
|Illinois||55%||36%||Oct 04||Oct 08||Market Shares|
|Massachusetts||55%||41%||Oct 09||Oct 11||PPP|
|North Carolina||48%||51%||Oct 09||Oct 09||Rasmussen|
|New Jersey||51%||40%||Oct 04||Oct 08||Global Strategy|
|Nevada||47%||45%||Oct 06||Oct 09||Suffolk U.|
|Ohio||48%||47%||Oct 10||Oct 10||Rasmussen|
|Ohio||51%||45%||Oct 07||Oct 09||Marist Coll.|
|Pennsylvania||47%||45%||Oct 08||Oct 08||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Pennsylvania||50%||42%||Oct 04||Oct 08||Global Strategy|
|Virginia||47%||48%||Oct 07||Oct 09||Marist Coll.|
|Virginia||48%||48%||Oct 08||Oct 08||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Virginia||51%||46%||Oct 04||Oct 09||Quinnipiac U.|
|Wisconsin||50%||46%||Oct 08||Oct 08||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Wisconsin||50%||47%||Oct 04||Oct 09||Quinnipiac U.|
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|California||Dianne Feinstein*||54%||Elizabeth Emken||35%||Oct 07||Oct 09||SurveyUSA|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||52%||Connie McGillicuddy||39%||Oct 07||Oct 09||Marist Coll.|
|Massachusetts||Elizabeth Warren||49%||Scott Brown*||47%||Oct 10||Oct 10||Rasmussen|
|Massachusetts||Elizabeth Warren||50%||Scott Brown*||44%||Oct 09||Oct 11||PPP|
|New Mexico||Martin Heinrich||52%||Heather Wilson||39%||Oct 08||Oct 08||Rasmussen|
|Nevada||Shelley Berkley||37%||Dean Heller*||40%||Oct 06||Oct 09||Suffolk U.|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||48%||Josh Mandel||43%||Oct 08||Oct 08||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||52%||Josh Mandel||41%||Oct 07||Oct 09||Marist Coll.|
|Pennsylvania||Bob Casey*||49%||Tom Smith||45%||Oct 09||Oct 09||Rasmussen|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||44%||George Allen||47%||Oct 08||Oct 08||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||47%||George Allen||46%||Oct 07||Oct 09||Marist Coll.|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||51%||George Allen||44%||Oct 04||Oct 09||Quinnipiac U.|
|Wisconsin||Tammy Baldwin||47%||Tommy Thompson||45%||Oct 08||Oct 08||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Wisconsin||Tammy Baldwin||48%||Tommy Thompson||46%||Oct 04||Oct 09||Quinnipiac U.|