What you need to know for the vice presidential debate


Tonight is the Vice Presidential debate between Republican candidate Mike Pence and Democratic candidate Tim Kaine. This will be the first and only Vice Presidential debate and will precede the second presidential debate on Oct. 9.

“Vice presidential debates, historically, have not played a huge role in the outcome of the election, which is about the principles of the individuals running for president,” Political Science professor Jeffrey Ladewig said. “It (the debate) adds flavor and focus to the news for a couple of days but does not have much of an effect on how people will vote for president.”

Following the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960, the American National Election Studies (ANES) conducted a poll of evenly mixed voters from northern and southern states. Their research found that of the 972 polled, only two people changed their opinion of Kennedy because of his running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Kaine seems like a nice guy, friendly and likeable, but even he has described himself as a little boring,” fifth-semester Political Science and Human Rights major Erin Dunn said. “In comparison, Pence seems to not be as genuine a candidate as Kaine.”

People vote for the president not the vice president, Ladewig said.

“Both are doing a pretty good job for what vice presidential candidates are supposed to,” Ladewig said. “Which is to talk about the presidential candidates and try to continue the messaging the campaign wants.”

Previous vice presidential candidates, such as Sarah Palin and Joe Biden in 2008 and Cheney in 2000, have stirred the pot.

“Neither of them (Kaine and Pence) really stand out too much, which is what you want in your vice presidential candidates,” Ladewig said. “Biden was a bit more vocal than Obama, and Cheney was a bit more powerful than Bush. Palin (in 2008) and Quayle (in 1988) stand out, and the rest, like Paul Ryan, are just pretty good candidates.”

In a poll conducted by ABC News, it was found that more than 40 percent of American voters cannot name the vice presidential nominees. That same poll found that 64 percent of Americans plan to watch the Vice Presidential debate in comparison to 74 percent of Americans who said they would watch the presidential debate.

Ladewig said students should tune into the debate.

“One: it’s your civic duty,” Ladewig said. “Two: there will be a decent policy discussion, which will be formative in it of itself. And three: for both (Presidential) candidates, anything could happen to them and the Vice President would assume the office of the President. Whoever is elected as the Vice President is consequential.”

“I am interested to see how each VP candidate tempers their debate strategy based on how Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump performed in their first debate,” Dunn said. “I think Kaine will perform soundly, both in the debate and if becomes the next vice president, particularly because of his past experience in executive style-leadership as the governor of Virginia. I believe that Senator Kaine’s Congressional experience will help set him apart from Pence, as Kaine has worked effectively on federal-level policy issues.”

Both Kaine and Pence have served in Congress and on the state level and have very different resumes than their Presidential candidates.

“It will be really hard to replicate this election on either side, because so few candidates are like the individual of Trump, and people aren’t made that way typically,” Ladewig said. “And Hillary has a fabulous resume as First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State and a really unique position of being in the public eye for so long. This is not something that a lot of candidates have, like Obama or Romney in 2012.”

Ladewig also stressed the importance of the millennial vote.

“The youth vote means everything to them,” Ladewig said. “Millennial voters are up for grabs right now. Enthusiasm is down for both candidates, but who is chosen in this election will shape the country for you guys. This is an incredibly important election. Millennials need to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate.”

Viewers can tune into the debate starting at 9 p.m. on a variety of cable news outlets, as well as online, according to Quartz

Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at elizabeth.charash@uconn.edu.

Leave a Reply