US Election Team Blog

Who won today’s vice-presidential debate? Does it matter?

Reuters/Chris Keane

Republican Mike Pence won today’s vice-presidential debate with his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine. We know this because the Republican National Committee tweeted it an hour before the debate began.

During the debate we helped fact check and monitor the conversation in real time @GOP. The consensus was clear after the dust settled, Mike Pence was the clear winner of the debate.

So much for “fact checking”; we know that’s a lie. But did we actually learn anything from the debate?

Much like the candidates themselves, it was a safe, staid affair.

The VP debate is almost always an afterthought to the presidential affair. And, much like a matinée performance starring the understudy, few voters are interested in watching it.

The role of the vice-presidential running mate is usually to serve as the attack dog; to say the things the more respectable presidential candidate can’t say. This year has seen the traditional roles reversed, particularly on the Republican side.

Kaine, a former governor and current US senator from the swing state of Virginia, has been quiet on the campaign trail, instead focusing on filling the campaign coffers through fundraising.

On the other hand, Pence, a former senior member of the US House of Representations and current governor of Indiana, has similarly been quiet on the campaign trail, focusing instead on quelling unrest among Republicans and trying to assuage concerned party members that the party’s unorthodox and unpredictable presidential candidate is worth investing in.

Both men were selected for the ticket because they were seen as safe bets. They are both known quantities, have a wealth of political experience, and appeal to the establishment of their respective parties.

The job of both men today was to be seen by the media of winning the debate, without doing anything noteworthy that might overshadow their running mates. Mission accomplished.

Much like Kaine and Pence, today’s debate was anything but exciting.

Pence, however, fulfilled his role perfectly, and appeared calm and conciliatory throughout – despite having to continually defend against Donald Trump’s statements.

Despite what the RNC told us before it even began, I would have to agree with them and give this debate to Pence.

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