Normally the vice presidential debate has a negligible impact on the election. But, when Paul Ryan and Joe Biden square off tonight at 9 p.m. EST in Danville, Ky., it won’t be under normal circumstances.
Everyone thought President Obama was poised for an easy cruise to reelection. The polls certainly looked that way. Yet in the wake of one of the biggest one-night comebacks in presidential history, Mitt Romney has a slight lead.
The momentum has swung. It’s arguably the first time President Obama–a brilliant campaigner–has appeared frazzled. Conservatives and even independents seem, perhaps for the first time, genuinely excited about candidate Romney. We’ve unexpectedly got ourselves a real horse race of an election, with an interested public, and there’s more pressure on the vice presidential candidates to seize the reins than anyone could’ve predicted.
What are the candidates’ goals?
“The Obama campaign has lost all the momentum they had and now are in danger of falling behind,” said ABC News political analyst and former George W. Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd. “Biden is important to stop the bleeding and regain their footing. And as important, Ryan has to not step in it, so the Romney trajectory can continue.”
Vice President Joe Biden is considered the underdog by a majority of Americans–55-percent of voters believe Paul Ryan will win (the same percentage thought Obama would win his debate). However, while Republicans predict that Ryan will run circles around the gaffe-prone Biden as Obama screams into a pillow, Biden should not be underestimated. He is a highly intelligent, veteran politician, and an incredibly underrated debater. He did well in his 2008 debate against Sarah Palin (remember the hype surrounding her?), and he had moments of brilliance during the 2008 Democratic Presidential Debates. In fact, one of the reasons then-candidate Obama chose Biden as his running mate was for his debate prowess.
So, don’t be surprised if Biden holds his own or even outperforms his less experienced debate partner.
What do you think? Will Biden help Obama hit the reset button, or will Ryan further the GOP momentum?