Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tim Kaine Won the Debate. Here's Why.

For much of the time, this one was tough to watch. It just wasn't nearly as much to fun as last week's epic smackdown of Trump. And if the crowd at my (usually packed) debate watch venue was any indication, I'm not sure there was a ton of interest to begin with.

And yet, it was still a good night for the Democratic ticket.

Both candidates had a job to do and they pretty much stuck to the plan. That is, Tim Kaine relentlessly attacked the real Donald Trump while Mike Pence relentlessly ignored the real Donald Trump. I thought Kaine was a little too aggressive in the opening moments, which set a confrontational tone that the debate never fully recovered from. However, after about a third of the way through he had found the right stride while still not letting up one bit. Kaine may not have furthered his nice guy reputation in the process, but he delivered multiple devastating hits on Trump that went totally unanswered. And when Pence did respond, it was often by digging a deeper hole with the fact-checkers.

A prime example:
There's a lot more where that came from, as we'll be hearing about into tomorrow and beyond.

I'll admit that I was watching the debate surrounded by Democrats, but the genuine feeling around me was that Kaine emerged on top due to several very strong moments. Therefore, this wasn't a surprise:
When the CNN snap poll came out showing a narrow overall win for Pence, it initially surprised me...until I looked a little deeper:

How can anyone "win" a debate if it costs you votes in the process? It doesn't work that way. Pence edged Kaine in the CNN poll because he was deemed "nicer", and it will probably help him become the GOP nominee in 2020. However, when push came to shove, Pence left his running mate out to dry...and it didn't go unnoticed:
The next Clinton/Trump showdown is just a few days away, at which time I suspect the VP debate will already be a half-forgotten footnote. But if I had to guess the one "moment" that will last until election day, it just might be this: