It’s a well-documented phenomenon of the 21st century – we all crave immediate gratification. That need to know right now how tonight’s events will effect tomorrow’s news is palpable everywhere you go. So of course I’m going to indulge it a little bit! I will now predict, for your reading pleasure, four possible outcomes of tonight’s VP debate.
Outcome 1: Nothing
Not what you were expecting me to start off with, eh? Well it turns out that historically Vice Presidential debates are pretty much meaningless. Candidates can get destroyed (think: Dan Quayle) and still get elected, or they can dominate (think: Lloyd Bentsen) and still lose. This is the wisdom of the political science-type who watch elections for a living. Then again, they said presidential debates rarely matter, and last Wednesday’s clearly did.
Outcome 2: The Biden Firewall
Joe Biden is an experienced debater who was elected to the senate before Paul Ryan graduated high school. Despite all his goofiness and gaffes, he’s got a strong ability to connect with people in a way different from President Obama or Mitt Romney – which is great news for Barack because he didn’t connect with anyone last week. Obama’s sliding in the polls but still maintains a lead. Biden could use his competence (a relative term) and relatability to save his ticket from a deeper spiral.
Outcome 3: Fireworks Over Danville
Biden needs to be aggressive to save his ticket. Ryan needs to be aggressive to maintain momentum. You see where this is going, right? If both sides pull no punches, we can expect all involved to walk away with black eyes. While I’m not sure if this would be the best outcome for either ticket, it would certainly be the most exciting for those of us keeping score at home. Who wouldn’t want to see Biden roundhouse kick Ryan with comments about his “youth and inexperience” followed by a Paul Ryan deficit-cutting chair strike? Count me in!
Outcome 4: The New Regime
Paul Ryan is a rising star in his party, no doubt about it. But even his most ardent supporters are probably wondering deep down if someone barely in their 40s has what it takes to lead the USA should the unthinkable befall Romney. Paul can put all of that speculation to rest tonight if he curb-stops Biden. Appearing on stage with a sitting VP is an automatic credibility booster. Winning thoroughly – or drawing a competent tie – would be an even bigger boost. And if you doubt that debates can make or break a career, I encourage you to take a look at Sarah Palin.
So there you have it. Four (out of many, I suppose) possible headlines for tomorrow’s news on tonight’s debate. I’m no prophet, I’m no oracle, and I’m no soothsayer, but I’d say the odds of one of this outcomes being the storyline Friday morning are pretty good. If I’m wrong, call me out in the comments once the debate ends tonight at 10:30.
And of course, follow us @DYNAMO_politics for a running commentary on what looks to be an exciting match-up!