The VP Debate’s Surprise – Joe Biden!

As I predicted earlier today, Sarah Palin did a ‘passing’ job in the debate.  To me, however, the real surprise was Joe Biden.  So much attention has been paid to the top of the ticket and additionally to Sarah Palin, many folks didn’t realize what a tremendous politician Joe Biden is – and that’s a compliment.   I thought this debate was all about Sarah and whether she passed or failed. Additionally, it would be her performance that would, if anything, move the polls.  And certainly that was the thought and basis for many of the talking points that came out of the debate by the pundits and debate watchers.

However, because Joe Biden has been so neglected on the campaign trail, this was a bit of a coming out party for him.  Palin reached 50 million viewers during her acceptance speech – Joe Biden considerably less.  Palin has been in the news EVERY SINGLE DAY.  There has been weeks Biden didn’t make the news and usually only when he committed a gaffe.  Today was his chance to reach that same 50 million plus, and thanks to Sarah Palin, maybe even more than that.

When he made the news, reports on him were usually not glowing. They’ve talked about all his missteps and maybe a little on his blue collar background.  But today he was able to demonstrate that he was articulate, knowledgeable on the issues, affable, and willing to stand up and defend his running mate.  Ipso facto, he demonstrated the qualities of someone who can step in as president, if so needed.

After the debates, the pundits did their typical analysis.  They all thought Palin ‘passed’, but Joe did a great job in the debate (at least on CNN) – from Ed Rollins to Paul Begala to David Gergen.  When the first polls came in about who won, my guess was it would be close but probably Sarah by a nose.  It wasn’t – both CBS and CNN showed a rather large win for Biden. More than that, the CNN poll was showing that he related better to them.   But why?  If expectations were set so low and she did more than just meet them – she exceeded them.  One would think that would mean a win for her.  But what we all failed to realized was that Biden had a lot to gain – because he wasn’t over exposed.  Independents, who are really all that matters at this point, may not have known much about Joe Biden.   Again, they know Obama, they know McCain, and they know Palin – but Biden was an unknown.  They may have come in thinking that, “yeah, Biden is fine.  But is Palin qualified?”.  Many may have left thinking, “Wow, Palin didn’t flub it but Biden really knows the issues.”  With that, they start projecting Biden onto Obama and also take another critical look at Sarah Palin.   What kind of adviser would she make – what kind of adviser would he make?

There was truly a big difference in their performances tonight.  Joe Biden attacked McCain, came armed with facts, articulated clearly the Obama/Biden position, and did a tremendous job refuting charges from McCain through Palin.  Palin was, obviously, very scripted.  She did a much better job transitioning responses and artfully dodging questions than she had in the past.  Beyond repairing her image, she didn’t have the details to really push forward the McCain/Palin agenda.  By staying restrained, Biden looked presidential and was able to do a great job making the case for Obama.

As the pundits stated, but for other reasons – Palin did Palin good tonight.  However, Biden did Obama good tonight – and he also did Biden good.  Again, Palin was able to rally the conservative base when they were losing hope in her.  But I do not think her performance is going to gain her anyone who truly was on the fence.  Possibly she may pick up some voters who were Republican leaners and just wanted to see if she was competent.  But Biden was able (if they needed it) to rally the Democratic base, as well as probably getting some true independents to consider the Obama/Biden ticket more seriously.  That’s where the debate was won – not the 89% partisan crowd, but the 11% that were taking the decision serious enough not to have made a decision yet.

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One Response

  1. […] The VP Debate’s Surprise – Joe Biden! October 3, 2008 at 1:26 am […]

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