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jlm11f's avatar

VP Debate - What's your analysis?

Asked by jlm11f (12358points) October 2nd, 2008

Here are the Qs I want you to focus on:
How do you think the 2 candidates did in terms of convincing the undecided voters?
Do you think this debate will have any effect on poll numbers?
Do you think Biden was aggressive enough? Also, why did he not attack Palin in the manner she attacked him (and also tell her to pronounce things the right way)?
Were you surprised by Palin’s performance? Did she surpass expectations?
What are things the 2 candidates will regret mentioning later on tonight?

The reason I have a “framework” of Qs is because I don’t want to start a repub vs. dem war. I know the repubs will like Palin more and dems will like Biden. That’s okay as long as you give your opinion in a polite manner and respect those of the other side.

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12 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Both sides accomplished their goals. I thought Palin ducked an awful lot of direct questions. Biden did a bit of wandering.

Not attacking was the right way to go for Biden. When Obama took the high road being civil throughout to McCain, while McCain was clearly surly, that was noted by and scored well with undecideds.

We (Americans) hate those attack ads.

Emilyy's avatar

Ah yes, structuring the answer for us to prevent any “maverick” behavior! Very smart.

I think that Palin is a compelling speaker, but she’s not really saying anything. So I think in terms of swaying undecideds, some people might be more inclined to vote for her because of that old notion that 90% of what people hear is not what you say, but how you say it. She’s cute, she smiles, she’s giggling and saying, “gosh!” and “gee!” So sure, undecided voters are going to eat that up and think, “She’s relatable, I liked her!” But I think that she really didn’t say much and instead just changed the subject from an uncomfortable one to one that she’s more comfortable with over and over. And that’s annoying.

I think, given Biden’s reputation, he’d be ripped apart if he attacked Palin. Nobody wants to see him beating up on a little lady like Palin. Even though some of us might argue that she deserves it.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

“O’Biden?” Really?

kevbo's avatar

Palin did a respectable job (as much as anyone these days expects a straight answer from a politician during a debate), although I’ve read some post-debate commentary that pretty much gives Biden the win among swing voters and/or undecideds. I thought he scored big with his “single dad” comments.

I’m ashamed though by the foundation of lies that prop up “democratic debate” in our country. No 3rd party participants. No 9/11 truth. Phony surge is working claims. No discussion of the unprecedented powers that are about to be transferred to the Secretary of the Treasury. And the claim that protecting our freedom means that we have to give up our rights and kill nearly everyone in the Middle East.

I am a very unhappy camper these days.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

In all seriousness, Biden couldn’t attack Palin the way she did him because he is a male. He would be seen as bullying her, whether he was or not (not).
Palin did surpass expectations, but that’s because expectations were so goshdarned low. Hell, the fact the she put full sentences together surpassed my expectations.

queenzboulevard's avatar

Palin did well. She didn’t give SNL writers as much as she has lately and that is a MAJOR bonus.

Bri_L's avatar

I will preface my remarks by saying that for undecided voters to really know, they would have to watch again. I think they would be taken in the first time by the fact this is the FIRST time they have seen and heard from Palin. I believe as a result they didn’t really hear what they thought they did accurately.

How do you think the 2 candidates did in terms of convincing the undecided voters?
Biden – Good: He actually referred to specific sources including McCains own website (not that it will still be there) as references. He kept his answers short, showed passion but didn’t over do it.

Palin – She did exactly what they needed her to do. She was as scripted as I expected.
She referred to all the info that she had practiced over the few weeks. When it came back to defending it she repeated it. If she didn’t have it she blatantly dodged it. She applied the folksy part of her that the darn home folks love. And, as you pointed out, she quirked her way out of situations by not answering.

Do you think this debate will have any effect on poll numbers?
I can’t really say. Part of me says “yes in favor of McCain” because people will fall for Palin’s shtick and part of me says “yes in favor of Obama” because Biden because he clearly showed how much more knowledgeable he was.

Do you think Biden was aggressive enough? Also, why did he not attack Palin in the manner she attacked him (and also tell her to pronounce things the right way)?
I think he was aggressive enough. People were told for weeks that he had a history of being overly aggressive. I think that had he been more so it would have been amplified ten fold. I think the same goes for why he didn’t attack her. That and, in my opinion, his responses were tactically more destructive. He responded with sound factual proof rather than rhetorical sound bites. I think telling her to pronounce things correctly would have opened her up to one of her local color speeches that would have made her legend. A sort of david and goliath moment.

Were you surprised by Palin’s performance? Did she surpass expectations?
No I was not. She did exactly as I thought she would She was speaking off of notes. She repeated what she said in rebuttal or she had been provided counter attacks. She blatantly ignored questions and outright said “I may not answer questions you or (the moderator) ask”. She did not surpass expectations.

What are things the 2 candidates will regret mentioning later on tonight?

Palin – nucular and I guess commenting, once again on the age of her VP opponent when her running mate is 7 years older.

Biden – I believe he may have made an inaccurate historical reference from what I heard after the debate and I believe he might regret mentioning “i’ve been here for 32 years I’m not going to change”

(this answer is, due to its length, dedicated to dale)

dalepetrie's avatar

I said many times on here and elsewhere, what the McCain camp was doing was intentionally setting the bar below zero, so that when they put her up on the stage, she wouldn’t fall flat on her face and that would be considered “good enough”. I knew she had come in 2nd runner up in Miss Alaska, had experience on TV as a sportscaster, and had done well in her gubernatorial debates. Plus, I knew they were prepping her night and day…she essentially spent the majority of as she said, “what has it been, five weeks?” prepping for this one debate where the McCain camp essentially insisted that the two candidates were expected to address the moderator and not each other. As one pundit put it this week, a “puke free” night for Palin would be considered a win. And to her credit, even though she had a permanent rictus slapped on her face, kept referring to notes, looked like a deer in the headlights, avoided answering most of the questions, and pretty much stuck to her script for what can only be described as pitifully predictable questions, she did not barf.

She also did one other thing I expected her to do…go on the attack…repeatedly. This is exactly what McCain did, so it was no surprise. By pretending he was suspending his campaign and then reneging at the last moment, he set the expectations for himself very low, and made it seem like he was running scared. But then when he was articulate and coherent (though generally stuck to a script and didn’t really say anything, except to try to attack Obama over and over), it came off that he was in command of the situation. So, the same thing happened here…they set the bar as low as they possibly could (I wouldn’t even be surprised if some of her Couric interview flubs were intentional), and she came out, she was articulate, she didn’t stumble over her words, she didn’t have a Miss South Carolina moment, and she took every chance to try to attack Obama and/or Biden (damn the truth).

But Biden was adept at calling her out when she lied, as was Obama. Biden answered the questions and pointed out where she did not (as did Gwen Ifil). Essentially, she set the expectations so that all she had to do was avoid looking stupid. And since she had memorized and/or read off a script everything she had to say, whether it answered the question or not, it probably wasn’t that hard.

Now really, any politician needs to know a few things these days about the electorate, and Palin HAS to know this. The Dems and Republicans are decided…the Republicans will defend any gaffe, and the Dems will jump all over any gaffe. But those who haven’t committed, by and large, if you haven’t committed by this point, you’re probably a low info voter, and you pretty much just want to see who you “like” more. But given the nature of VP debates, they really don’t move the numbers, historically EVER. But if someone messes up big time, it can and will affect the opinions of the middle…if you give these low info voters a reason to dislike you, they will turn against you. But unless the other guy gives undecideds a reason to dislike him, it’s not a game you can pick up points on….it’s one where you can only lose, and therefore, your two goals need to be 1) not hurting yourself and 2) trying to do anything to make your opponent put his foot in his mouth. She succeeded on the first point, but not the second…she kept from doing anything that would make people dislike her, but she failed on the second point…she did nothing to make independents dislike Biden (Republicans, yes…but they already did dislike Biden).

Now look at it form Biden’s perspective, which should be the same. He had the same two goals…don’t make himself look unlikeable in any way (he succeeded, he was very affable), and try to make your opponent look unlikeable. I think he didn’t succeed in spades, BUT, by constantly calling her when she twisted the truth, it did make it obvious to even the most uncritical voter what she was TRYING to do.

Long and short, if it has ANY effect on poll numbers, it will be a slight increase for Obama, but considering that he’s got very little room left to climb and that Biden didn’t exactly land any “knockout” blows, it shouldn’t be significant…maybe a point in national numbers…and probably a temporary bounce if anything…because there was nothing that people are going to remember from this debate in 32 days.

And Biden couldn’t attack Palin…he’d look like he was beating up on her. Remember, the ONLY place he could make points (or more likely LOSE them), would be if he came off as unlikeable, and hey, if you look like the asshole that made the pretty lady cry, the low info voter will think he’s the mean old man, and it WILL lose him points. He did the right thing by not attacking her….by letting her be the only one who went on the attack, and by calmly explaining where she was not being truthful and/or accurate, he was just being likable, and not bitter, partisan, or mean. And if he’d corrected her pronunciation he would have a) come off as nitpicky, and b) would have destroyed an opportunity…think about it…she can only dig a hole by mispronouncing words…peole know how they’re pronounced, and if they don’t, BIDEN pronounced the correctly showing the unwashed masses how it SHOULD be said. Either you care about this or you don’t, if you care, you already know she’s saying it wrong, if you don’t, you probably just care about who comes off as more “civil” about it. So, it would have been self-defeating, let her dig her own hole and avoid looking mean, that HAD to be his goal. After all, the cliche with VP nominees is “do no harm.”

And I don’t think either will regret mentioning anything to be completely honest. They both did what they had to do, neither screwed it up too much. Maybe, and this is a big maybe, when Palin pretty much said she agreed with Biden about the civil rights issues surrounding same sex couples, what she was TRYING to do was to avoid the question, but what she ACTUALLY did was allowed it to come off like she was for equal rights for same sex partners, and that COULD be problematic to the religious right wing she calls her base. But that in and of itself is like anything else…if you’re partisan to the right ALL is forgivable (and that’s true in reverse as well, perhaps to a lesser degree, but maybe I’m too biased to see it). But the danger here is that she may be called upon to backpedal, and when anyone backpedals, the independents have another reason to dislike her.

I think I hit all your questions. If I didn’t, let me know.

emilyrose's avatar

@omfg—I heard the O’Biden as well. Jolly Irish man is he!

SuperMouse's avatar

Although her carriage was better than I expected and aside from the O’Biden crack there were no huge gaffes, I’m still not quite sure what I think. I think she worked a little too hard to be an average gal, and if I heard her say “maverick” one more time I would have punched my set. I was very impressed with her ability to spin, I gave a standing ovation when she managed to make it sound like she supports equal rights for those in same sex unions and was actually interested in renewable energy and in doing something about global warming. You gotta hand it to someone who can get that done.
As she delivered the “say it ain’t so Joe” line, I couldn’t help but wonder how excited she was to have found a place to fit it in, I could almost see her jumping up and down with excitement and screaming In Your Face!

I think she was actually a bit too down-home and folksy. I want my president and vice president to be, well presidential.

tabbycat's avatar

Palin came out better than expected. Biden won the debate because he had a better grasp of the issues and their historical context. He did a good job of calling Palin down when she lied, but was friendly and pleasant to her on a personal level. He didn’t forget that his main target needed to be McCain, not Palin.

I think most minds were made up before the debate, but hearing Biden and Palin may have cemented a few more votes for Obama. I think a number of people will have the reaction that hearing Joe Sixpack’s views is valuable, but we want a more Presidential presence in the White House.

wundayatta's avatar

Undecided Voters
I think it was a stand-off. Both candidates did better than expected. Palin looked sure and knowledgeable, and capable of handling the political non-responsive response with panache. She smiled and winked and used Reaganesque folksy phrases, which have worked in the past.

Biden did not do anything he might have. He didn’t get off track, and he wasn’t too long-winded. I thought he could have been a bit more concise. He used emotion, when he was crying about being a single dad, but kept it to a minimum, so I think it was not a sign of weakness. He seemed more substantive on issues, but to me that’s a weakness, because as far as I can tell, the people aren’t interested in issues, and are interested in character.

Impact on poll numbers
Well, from the overnight polls, it looks like there is more movement towards Obama. Biden has been deemed the winner. Conventional wisdom is that the VP debate doesn’t impact the election, as people are focussed on the top of the ticket. Things could be different this year, but only marginally. The economy is really the driver, at this point, although I’m surprised it took this crisis on Wall Street for people to pay attention.

Aggresssive Debating
I would have liked to see Biden be more aggressive. I don’t think he needed to handle her so gently. It shows a gracious forebearance, but I really thought she made so many eggregious statements, and he could have succinctly trashed them all, if he had been more aggressive. and obviously a debate is not an english class; it would have been churlish (but oh so funny) of him to correct her pronunciation

Palin’s performance
I think she surpassed expectations. The Couric fiasco set us up to think she was going to bumble through the evening. Or maybe that’s what we hoped. I kept thinking, ‘damn! She must have rehearsed the hell out of this’ because she seemed very smooth, she took notes, and she responded to each point Biden made in a way he didn’t seem to do in return.

Regrets
Since I have already decided who to vote for long before the debates, I don’t watch them for information to help me decide. Rather, I watch to see how I think they are playing across the country. I usually guess wrong. I thought Reagan lost the debate badly, but the people thought the other way around. I thought Palin won last night, but it seems the people thought the other way around.

So I look for body language, voice, facial expressions, confidence, and the odd folksism, because apparently voters seem to like that shit. Palin came out, put herself on the even footing by asking “Can I call you Joe,” which showed her to be equal, while at the same time putting him in an awkward spot.

I think Joe might regret not attacking harder, although since he did well enough, that may not matter. I don’t think she has anything to regret. I think her performance is as good as it could be.

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