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August 28, 2015

VP debate scores blockbuster ratings

by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 4th 2008 8:05AM
Biden Palin Conventional wisdom says that vice presidents don't matter much when it comes time to vote, that people ultimately make their choice based on who's running for president. However, when it comes to debates, VEEPs are the main event.

The Nielsen numbers are in for last night's debate between Vice Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin and they're huge -- 69.9 million viewers watched the VEEP debate. That's a whopping 17.5 million more viewers than Barack Obama and John McCain drew for their first debate last Friday night.

Why were so many more people tuned in for Biden-Palin? There are a few reasons, starting with the curiosity about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Thanks to CBS News' Katie Couric and NBC's Tina Fey, Sarah Palin become an even bigger media sensation than she was after the Republican National Convention.

The Governor has become a tremendously polarizing figure; just as many people love her as hate her. People wanted to see if she would be a train wreck in the debate, and to her credit, she wasn't. She made no major gaffes and many pundits -- including MSNBC's Pat Buchanan -- thought she won the debate.

Another reason for huge ratings was that the debate was shown on a Thursday night -- with little competition. There's really no night of the week that draws better than Thursday (and a lot better than the first Presidential debate landing on a Friday).

Overall, the debate wasn't nearly as interesting as the build-up. Like Joel wrote, it's too bad the format for these things can't be varied. Shaking it up could only improve the discourse.

One final note, I heard one expert claim that Tina Fey would find nothing to spoof from Sarah Palin's performance in the debate. Apparently, Saturday Night Live does not agree. Queen Latifah is going to play debate moderator Gwen Ifill on this week's show, with Ms. Fey again bringing Governor Palin to life.

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I rest my case.

October 05 2008 at 7:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only thing worse than these comments is Allison's original post.

Please leave the political commentary to someone who has a clue.

October 05 2008 at 9:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I disagree Carissa. I think if someone hands us a plate with Sarah Palin on a presidential ticket we are allowed to push it away.

I also don't know if you can equate "understanding middle America" with selecting 'Jane Six-Pack' as your running mate. Just because she presents qualities that are relatable doesn't mean she's qualified to be the vice-president of the United States. We should want our president to be as competent as possible or we may end up in the same situation that we are in now.

And yes I'm sure she is a lot smarter than people give her credit for, plus there is a lot of pressure from the national spotlight, but if she can't give a straight answer in any entire debate is she qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

In the end though I think John McCain will need to do a lot more to win over middle class Americans while running on a platform that rejects them.

(Someone slap me for talking politics on TVsquad)

October 04 2008 at 9:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bob's comment

This debate was not geared toward her strengths, yet most people think she did just fine. Biden has been a legislator for over 30 years. He should have been able to knock it out of the park. Instead, a good portion of his answers were flat out wrong. (I won't call them lies, I think he just screwed up.)

She has executive experience and questions could have been geared toward her policies, her record, etc. That would have given voters a true sense of her abilities, but no...we didn't have that.

Instead we played this game of gotcha and it failed miserably. I'm more critical of her performance at the debate that most of her supporters (that stupid wink for one thing), but most people think she did just fine.

Middle class voters that vote for Obama are suckers. You'll buy a good line and we will all pay the price in the end.

October 05 2008 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People watched the debate for the same reason they watch Nascar for crashes, to enjoy the carnage. But really that didn't occur on either side, however I would have liked to see the moderator have more of a presence in keeping the conversation on topic.

October 04 2008 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chadwick hansford

McCain/Palin 2008

October 04 2008 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

Yea, there is no way in hell that anyone with half a brain can say that Biden didn't win the debate. And Palin's performance was completely to be expected, if you watched any of the clips from her debates when she ran for governor. People have different strengths. Obama does really well in prepared speeches, and one-on-one with reporters (even hostile one-on-one exchanges like when he was interviewed by O'Reilly, I think he came off very well). Obama does less well in town halls, and even less in debates (even though he has certainly improved his performance handily from the first primary debates. Palin does really well in prepared speeches, and fairly well in town halls, and really well in debates. She absolutely sucks in one-on-one exchanges, where she can't redirect the question to one she can answer, at least not very easily, and her complete lack of knowledge shines through.

Biden, on the other hand, does well in pretty much every setting (other than the occaisional gaffe), and McCain does fairly well in debates, and on the stump, but slightly less well in one-on-one exchanges, and truly horrible in prepared speeches.

October 04 2008 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Joey Geraci's comment

Sorry, Omega. Both halves of my brain know that no one won that debate. And I told my sister half way through it doesn't matter what Palin says, everyone will accuse her of not answering questions and make fun of the twang in her voice, saying she doesn't look or sound like she should be a presidential candidate. I was right.

To be cheeky and in response to those much ballyhooed topics (her looks, voice, etc.), I don't recall much about Biden's answers because I was stunned by the obvious botox on his forehead. His eyes were running wild trying to keep his expressions alive because his forehead just dropped the ball.

One final thing - Before John McCain picked his running mate, one the BIG complaints about him was that he didn't understand middle America. He doesn't even know how many houses he has, what can he know about us?? Then he picked a candidate that, other than her political success, IS one of us. And now you think she's not a good candidate because of it.

Make up your damned minds. You don't get to ask for something and then push the plate away when it is served.

October 04 2008 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

I'm sorry, but just because someone isn't rich, doesn't mean they understand Middle America. (Remember, Biden doesn't have any nestegg either). You have to prove through your actions that you care about the common man. What has Palin proved. That she is an angry, vindictive woman, who will use her power to hurt those that defy her (or her family), and who shifts with the political winds when it suits her (Her campaign against a state trooper (who is currently happily employed and I am sure amused at how much harm Palin has caused herself in her attempt to get revenge for her sister) and her support for the bridge to nowhere, and its sponsor (the corrupt and idiotic Ted Stevens) before she was against it)

Biden had absolutely no expectations going into this debate, as he is not known as a strong debater or speaker, and there was much fear of him committing a critical gaffe like he has done at other times in his career. But he blew it out of the park.

October 14 2008 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

McCain/Palin 2008

October 04 2008 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Stork

Well, tell us how you really feel! Too bad your post is just that...a diatribe of feelings with no substance.

Feel free to repost when you have something to say that's on topic.

October 04 2008 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to The Stork's comment

If she tried to put some substance into her post one side or the other would say she's being too biased.

October 04 2008 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, you could have used FACTS as a basis for the argument. Of course, what is the fun in that!

October 05 2008 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She could have crawled onstage, called for her Mommie, and crawled back off, and Pat Buchanon and his ilk would have touted her as the winner of the debate.

I only watched the first half-hour, but it reminded me a little of one of the debates in the first Bush election, where his democratic oppenent would give a well-reasoned answer to a question, and when it was Bush's turn to respond, he'd stumble through a few nonsensical phrases, then yell out, "You-you-you-you gotta get things DONE," and the crowd would go wild and the pundits, apparently acting as nothing more than an applause meter, would say he won the debate.

And all the people Bush would spend the next eight years screwing campaigned and voted for him.

And four years of screwing apparently wasn't enough for them as they came right back for four more.

We are truly a country of morons.

I think the two party system can be boiled down to this: Republicans are evil. Democrats are incompetent. Truly a choice between a turd sandwich and a giant douche.

So come on Americans! Let's do the right thing and get out there and vote for the lesser of two evils. And please do not waste a vote on by far the best of the three candidates, Ralph Nader. Do read up on Nader's platform, however, and tell your own reps and senators and whichever of the two party candidates wins that you want them to do what Nader says. Nader may be a spoiler and come off like a weird old-guy, but he's by far the smartest of the candidates and the only one who is truly in it 100% for the betterment of America for the average American... so, let's note vote for him because that'll help the eviler of two evils win, but we should listen to what Nader says and tell the winners to do it.

October 04 2008 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Rich's comment
Mike Hoffpauir

OMG! Thats the problem we have. Well I would vote for the 3rd party but I dont wanna waste a vote. ENOUGH! Vote who you want to vote for. Screw both evils. People who think that Obama and the dems will do any better are
truely rare optmists. If I did vote for the lesser of two evils it would be McCain but I've decided not to have that defeatist mentality anymore and I wish more people would stand by there convictions than settle

October 04 2008 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, this is pretty odd. Below, The Stork says,

"Well, tell us how you really feel! Too bad your post is just that...a diatribe of feelings with no substance.

Feel free to repost when you have something to say that's on topic."

Before I posted my comment, Comment number 1 was a really nasty comment, and what Stork wrote was a response to that nasty comment. I'm pretty sure that The Stork's comment was already here when I wrote my comment.

Now, that really nasty comment is gone, and The Stork's rebuttal appears just after my comment, which has somehow jumped above it, making it look as if The Stork was responding to my comment, though The Stork had already left his comment and was already back out delivering children (which is probably what Sarah Palin believes) by the time I left my comment.

And Karen, if your comment below was directed towards me, read Nader's platform like I say and you'll have your facts.

October 05 2008 at 2:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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