This need not be a long post. But I thought I should jot down a few impressions from the Vice Presidential debate last night between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.
The takeaway, in case you don't want to read further:
The debate didn't budge the needle an inch. Far more likely it moved it the wrong direction for the Obama campaign.
It is obvious to me to that the internal polling of the Obama campaign shows lackluster enthusiasm among their Democrat base. There is no other rational explanation for Joe Biden's performance last night. This is a campaign playing defense, not offense. Rather than attempt a good impression with independent, undecided voters, the Obama campaign is playing hard to their base. What do I mean?
I mean that if you are unfortunate enough to be one of the 1 million devoted nightly viewers of MSNBC, this debate was for you. You cheered, you jeered, guffawed, you high-fived, tears fell from your eyes as finally, finally, the campaign took the gloves off and socked it to 'em, bullied and called them liars and irresponsible pipsqueaks. Vice President Biden's obnoxious eye-rolling, smiling, guffawing, pugnacious put-downs, condescending head-patting of "my friend," all amounted to nothing more than left-wing, progressive pornography. Their fantasies were fulfilled, and they left gratified.
Everyone else (and I mean everyone else, including mainstream media members) saw an obnoxious, condescending, disrespectful, totally off-putting bully in full performance mode. Nobody other than the most extreme liberal partisans saw something... remotely likeable.
And keep in mind that the only real advantage Obama has held throughout the year is (the reason escapes me) precisely that: likeability.
In an effort to throw red meat to the MSNBC crowd, Joe Biden just cut off the branch he and his running mate are sitting on. The VP debate, and VP debates generally, do not sway many voters. Nobody goes into the voting booth and says to him or herself, "Gee, I really don't like this Obama guy; but boy, I love his running mate. I think I'll vote for him anyway!" But to the extent that there were actual votes up for grabs, Joe Biden was utterly repellent.
Ann Althouse is a political moderate (a law professor in Madison, Wisconsin!), and an undecided voter. I found her live-blog interesting because I believe it is representative of how nearly everybody outside the MSNBC crowd reacted. And what is that reaction? She was highly irritated.
Bottom line: Yeah, the extreme base was uplifted. Everyone else was unimpressed. This is not a winning strategy for the Obama campaign, and you will continue to see it reflected in the polls. The direction and momentum is decisively toward Romney/Ryan, and this debate only accelerated it.