Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Who won the VP debate? It depends on when you ask the question

Pence won the debate in the moment; Kaine will seem more-the-victor in days ahead

Republican Mike Pence (left) and 
Democrat Tim Kaine (right).
Images via Wikipedia
Here’s my very-quick take on the vice presidential debate last night between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine. Everyone is concerned about who “won” and I’ll include my two cents on that as well. But first I want to Socratically ask, “when do we measure victory?”

If we’re talking about who won in the moment, Mike Pence is the definite winner, though he didn’t win with a huge victory. He simply performed better than Tim Kaine. The Democratic nominee certainly had more facts on his side, but he frequently interrupted his opponent and pressed the same issues over and over. In watching the debate live, even I, one of his supporters, had to cringe at Kaine’s performance.

Pence was less factual, but more composed. I tried putting myself in the shoes of an undecided, low-information voter who doesn’t regularly follow politics. Pence just comes off more professional and ready to serve from that perspective.

However, when looking at “who won” from a different perspective, I think Tim Kaine takes the victory. That perspective is from the news fact-checking that is heavily prevalent in our media landscape today. Kaine consistently attacked Pence on the issue of Donald Trump, and asked him to defend Trump’s lewd and questionable statements. Pence refused to defend them, stating several times that Trump didn’t say what Kaine said he did.

As the video below shows (via Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account), that’s just not the case:
And perhaps that was what Kaine was after all along in delivering the same message over and over again. That method of debating makes him seem almost bullyish DURING the debate, but in this age of soundbite politics (coupled with the various fact-checking websites contradicting Pence’s insistence that Trump never said what he actually did say), it creates lasting impressions in the form of videos like those above. In that sense, Kaine is the clear victor TODAY and in the days AFTER the debate.

Indeed, the vice presidential debate was likely watched by less people than the first presidential debate between Hillary and Donald. It would be better strategy, then, to try and create situations in the VP debate that could be used on the campaign trail (in commercials or otherwise) rather than trying to win the debate in the moment. In that regard, Kaine won.


  1. After reading this pathetic drivel, I'm unsubscribing. Kaine was the clear winner of the VP debate, as he would not tolerate Pence's constant lying. If you are some sort of progressive, it is not evident. Decide what political persuasion you really are, before posting equivocating idiocy. Pence is an extremist-a right-wing Christopath who would take this country back to the 1800's if he could-particularly concerning the status of women. But you forgot that part. of course.

    1. Sophie, I don't disagree with everything you wrote. Factually speaking, Pence is a liar who just presents himself better than Trump; Kaine had the facts on his side.

      But when talking about who "won" we have to consider the people the candidates are trying to win over -- undecided, low information voters.

      It's unfortunate, but sometimes presentation plays into that. I felt like Pence presented his B.S. better than Kaine presented the facts. But as I point out, we live in a day of post-debate fact-checking, and many of those undecideds likely watched clips of the debate after it happened -- clips like those linked to above.

      In that sense, Pence "won" the debate (but still isn't right about several issues) *in the moment*. In the days ahead, Kaine is going to appear the winner because, as you pointed out, he's got the facts on his side.

      As for my progressive bona fides, I can assure you I have them. I went door-to-door for Barack Obama and Assembly Democrats in 2008. I did the same thing in 2011 to try to recall a Republican state senator in Western Wisconsin. I collected signatures for the Scott Walker recall. I've sang with the Solidarity Singers. Heck, I even walked out of my high school classroom in 2003 to protest the Iraq War.

      As a progressive I do my damndest to make the case for progressive ideas, such as universal health care, education based on merit rather than your parents' bank accounts, fairer tax codes, equality for all, and so on. But I'm allowed to look objectively at issues too, and to presume how others view cultural events outside of my point of view. Empathy is a huge part of progressivism, after all, and it's important to view events from the lens of someone's else's political perspectives.

      That's what I'm doing above. I'm not trying to promote Mike Pence, but rather see how other people may have viewed his debate performance.

      If you can't differentiate between those ideas, then I'm afraid you have more to work on than I. I appreciate your comment, and hope that you do continue to read the blog.