Our apologies for the delayed post, but this week are including both the vice presidential debate from last week, and the presidential debate that will happen tonight (post to come within the next two days).
Our topic for the analysis on the vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan deals with the two most important groups that will more than likely decide the election in November— that is the independents and the women of this country. So looking back on Thursday night’s debate, how did each candidate do as far as communicating the issues to these particular groups in hopes of conveying that their plan was best for this country’s future?
Make sure you leave a comment with thoughts and/or questions and tune in at the end of the week where we will be covering the second of three presidential debates!
By Emily Cox
I couldn’t have had a more entertaining Thursday evening. The vice-presidential debate that took place at Centre College in Kentucky was surprisingly engaging and even amusing at times. Immediately after the debate, reporters likened the dynamic between Biden and Ryan to that of a father and son: quarrelsome but in general good-natured, with each party convinced of the rightness of their own ideas. And unlike the candidates during the presidential debate last week, these vice-presidential hopefuls weren’t afraid to actually debate. By the end of the debate, I was impressed by the fact that either candidate could be a successful vice-president.
Hundreds of thousands of viewers across the nation likely shared this sentiment, and for last night’s candidates, swaying those viewers could mean the difference between success and defeat. It’s the votes of people that have an undecided mindset that Biden and Ryan (and Obama and Romney) want so badly. If you study the political system in America, you know the importance of independent voters. The split between the Democratic and Republican parties is often close to 50/50, so several hundred thousand undecided voters from smaller parties in key swing states could potentially decide the winner of the election.
Another important group that both the Democratic and Republican parties are trying to win the favor of is women. Significantly more women are registered to vote than men in most states. Overall, in 2008, over 10 million more women voted than men. Even more importantly, men tend to make up their minds faster than women during every election cycle, so many of the independent voters are also women. This means that women are valuable because they are more likely than men to vote and they are also more likely than men to be undecided.
I am confident that in last night’s debate, Biden was successful at capturing the attention of both women and independent voters. What will bring Biden the support of these groups is that he was specific about his future goals if reelected. One of the characterizations of both of these groups is that they are often highly informed about political issues and typically more engaged in the election process than other voters. In the debate alone, I felt that both Biden and Ryan were excellent competitors and the performance effectively ended in a draw.
However, based on the issues discussed, Biden defended and accurately elaborated on his positions far more effectively than did Ryan. At one point, Biden declared, “I always say what I mean.” Indeed, he wasn’t afraid of calling out Ryan several times after the opponent made misleading remarks. He also was not afraid to elaborate on issues such as future plans for Medicare, clearing up misconceptions about $716 billion being “taken” from this program in order to fund Obamacare (The $716 is actually savings that will stem from lower healthcare provider and insurer reimbursements). He was confident in explaining the mechanisms that will make the national healthcare plan successful, and most critically he was transparent about issues such as taxes. He gave a specific plan of action for creating a tax system that will give more relief to the middle class, explaining that he wants to permanently extend the middle class tax cut that was created under the Bush presidency, while he would let the tax cut for people making a minimum of $1 million expire. This was a concrete example of how the Obama/Biden presidency wants to work to reform taxes. On the other hand, Ryan simply talked of closing loopholes and could only present a framework for change and no authentic example of what that change would actually look like.
Voters can see through evasive tactics, especially undecided voters who have a vested interest in finding out who is truthful and straightforward. Biden did a superb job of putting Ryan on the spot so that the candidates’ plans could be compared. At the end of the hour-and-a-half, Biden had presented much more concrete evidence that his administration has a plan for success in office. This is what those important groups – women and undecided voters – are looking for when they make the final decision of who will gain their vote. Well played, Biden.
By Collier Roberts
After all was said and done Thursday, I think it is safe to say that many of the expectations of this vice-presidential debate, more or less, were met. Vice President Joe Biden did what most people expected him to do. As we saw from the first presidential debate, President Obama really left a lot on the table and just as everyone suspected, Biden cleaned it up and went on the offense. On the contrary, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan had to keep the fire going from Mitt Romney’s performance last week, and I think he performed/reacted to Biden just as many thought he would. Biden, being the charismatic man he is, took advantage of his experience/service and showed his true colors Thursday night, but in my opinion, came down as disrespectful and inconsiderate. He interrupted Ryan some eighty-five times and let’s not forget Biden’s continuous smirks and sometimes right-out laugh opposing Ryan and his explanations. When you are debating your opponent for a position like vice president, I would expect whomever that is, to respect and be cordial, even if your views are polarized opposite.
All that being said, I think that the format of this debate allowed for Biden to just run the tables. He, being the sitting vice president, had all he needed and this format was just a catalyst. That being said, both Ryan and Biden, maybe even more so than Obama, made their case for themselves and their candidates, if elected, and I believe did so effectively. But did Biden’s “know-it-all” attitude really help his ticket? Everyone knows that the vice presidential debates usually have little, if any, affect on the outcome of the race, but if anyone is going to change their minds after this debate, it will be independents and women.
If there are two groups that are extremely vital to either party’s road to victory, it is the independents and women, especially in the swing states. So who communicated the issues to those groups better in this debate. It was Paul Ryan. Yeah, Biden was in control and commanded the debate, but was something as trivial as his demeanor towards Ryan detrimental to the Obama-Biden ticket? Absolutely. Ryan was targeting independents throughout the whole night, or at least was doing so when Biden wasn’t condescendingly degrading him. He was cordial and spoke with dignity, and independents and women a like saw that. It is simple math. Everyone, women especially, appreciate men who act with respect.
Demeanors aside, Paul Ryan took what Romney had left him from last week and just extended his explanations of policy, both foreign and domestic. In regards to foreign, Ryan took the offense on Libya and the notions that Obama Administration misled the American people in the attacks in Benghazi, and in short criticized the lack of knowledge on how to move forward in Syria, Israel and Iran. On the middle class and the tax reform fight the two had, Ryan was articulate and unwavering to the American people on the Romney-Ryan plan for a prosperous economy. There was much scrutiny over Ryan’s apparent lack of explanation of middle-class tax relief. The framework is there, but the details are not, at least that is what Biden and the democrats argue. What people don’t realize is that that there is an unending list of loopholes to the tax codes, which if closed up will significantly decrease the deficit, and that the Romney-Ryan ticket IS going to lessen the tax burden on middle-income Americans. Their across the board 20 percent cut will give the middle-class incentive to invest and create more small businesses and jobs, and hire more people which will put more and more money back into the economy, closing the deficit. In short, the tax debate consisted of Biden relaying to the American people that middle class taxes will be lower and those are rich, or making more than $1 million as he put it, would contribute more. But the White House stands by that those making $250,000 or more will be taxed higher, so why not explain that? Romney and Ryan will provide a $5 trillion tax cut from just using common sense with regulation, closing loopholes, and by letting American’s do what they do best, create and invest.
So in closing, I think Paul Ryan did his job in being very articulate and unwavering in his arguments and positions against Joe Biden. At the end of the day, if you already liked Joe Biden, then this debate just reaffirmed that and got you pumped. But for those who didn’t (most likely independents and most women), you were left thinking how little you learned about what the Obama-Biden ticket is going to do differently about getting us (independents and women) back to work with the most benefits possible. They say that Romney and Ryan can’t do it, but the Obama administration has had four years, two of which they had control of the house and senate, but still didn’t come through for the American people, independents and women being right at the top of those. While we won’t be able to cover the vast amount of issues and differences between the two tickets, both continue to go at each other to win over these key votes in swing states. Thursday’s vice presidential debate re-excited the democratic base from Obama’s flat-footed performance, but Ryan’s gentlemanly and articulate explanation, gave women and independents a reason to go vote red come November 6.