It’s Debatable: Did the Vice Presidential Debate Matter?

It’s Debatable: Did the Vice Presidential Debate Matter?


As I sat at and watched the vice presidential debate, I began to wonder why the vice presidents were even debating. Joe Biden politely, or sometimes mockingly, smiled at Paul Ryan as he talked for two minutes about topics such as Libya, cutting various programs, and the military. From the beginning, many believed that Biden had won the race. But as Ryan talked about unemployment and the troops, I couldn’t help but feel that his job at the debate was to defend Romney. During the debate when asked about unemployment, Paul Ryan went on a tangent and told a poignant story about his running mate giving away money to a family in need. He even said, “Mitt Romney’s a good man (Ryan, 2012)”. In my opinion the story seemed a bit cheesy as I realized Paul Ryan’s strategy was to aim for pathos versus Biden’s logos “strategy” at winning the debate. So as I watched the debate a more pressing question popped up in my head. Who cares who the winner of the debate is? These two candidates are running to be vice president so does it really matter who wins? On Saturday Night Live, one of the skits mocked the debate and at the beginning the actress posing as Martha Raddatz even said “And before we begin, gentlemen a reminder that your performance tonight is extremely unlikely to affect the outcome of this election. So just have fun with it”.

In my opinion the vice presidential debate did not matter. Of course many people believe that the vice presidents have a relaxed job with nothing to do until the president dies. This reason could be applied to the fact that not as many people cared to turn into the vice presidential debate. The first presidential debate with Romney’s infamous Big Bird/Sesame Street comment pulled in 70 million viewers. There was only around 51 million viewers for the vice presidential debate.
Another reason I believe that the debate did not matter is that in the past they haven’t really had an impact. For the 2008 presidential election, there were low expectations for Governor Sarah Palin. Many viewers tuned in to see her fail but little happened as far as polling after her debate with Joe Biden. For this election the same situation happened. Barack Obama didn’t do his best at the first presidential debate so it was Joe Biden’s responsibility to deliver and he did deliver.
And then there is the fact that many people have already made up their minds about who they want for president. If the vice presidents were selected separately from the presidents then more voters would probably pay attention to the vice presidents. According to polling, 47% of people are siding with Obama and 46% with Romney this election. Regardless of the performance of the vice presidents, in my opinion the vice presidential debate did not matter because many voters had already made up their minds about what president they liked and a debate by the second in command was not going to sway them.

Gentilviso, Chris. “Undecided Voters Are 2012 Commodity.” The Huffington Post., 23 Sept. 2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <;.


-Sharday Briscoe


About rowlanda12

This is a blog about the 2012 presidential election. Content is generated by students in Professor Heldman's Politics 101 class. She does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here.
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