The 2016 vice presidential debate took place last night and WCU students held a watch party to react and give their opinions.
The 2016 vice presidential debate began at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Longwood University in Virginia and was moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News. The vice presidential candidates were Donald Trump’s running-mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), and Hillary Clinton’s running-mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
The 90-minute debate focused on several different topics including immigration, foreign policy and abortion. A constant throughout the entire debate was Kaine’s attacks against the character of Trump and his attempts to get Pence to try and defend him. While Pence did defend Trump, he made sure to shrug off the majority of the accusations and stay on topic when it came to policy.
Both a CNN poll and Fred Luntz focus group had Pence winning the debate. The CNN poll had 48 percent of voters saying Pence won and only 42 percent saying Kaine won. Also, 22 out of 26 people had Pence winning the debate according to the Fred Luntz focus group.
Kaine came off as “trying too hard” according to the Washington Post. The Post also says “the senator from Virginia came across as over-rehearsed, often interrupting his Republican opponent, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana”.
The WCU VP debate watch party was held in the UC Illusions. Around 30 students showed up to observe the debate and interact with their peers. The event was sponsored by the Student Democracy Coalition (SDC) and Last Minute Productions.
“I feel like they both gave a pretty accurate description and depiction of what both of the campaigns stand for,” said Joanna Woodson, a member of the SDC and one of the organizers of the watch party.
Another student, Ashlynn Landreth said that – “both candidates did a ‘really good job’.
“I like more direct answers so I would probably have to go with Pence,” said Landreth.
It is hard to tell whether or not this VP debate will have an impact when it comes to the polls. Most of the time they never do.
“The vice presidential debate is an important event for learning about these important political actors, but as far as impact on the election, it means little to nothing. There is no example of a vice presidential debate moving the polls,” said Chris Cooper, the Political Science Department head at WCU.
In 2012, Gallup analyzed voter preferences before and after the eight VP debates held between 1976 and 2008 (there was no VP debate in 1980) and found the undercards “had almost no influence.”
There is still a lot to be decided when it comes to the presidential election. While the vice presidential debate may not have made that huge of an impact, the final two presidential debates most likely will.
The next presidential debate is at 9 p.m. this coming Sunday, Oct. 9, and the final debate is on Wednesday, Oct.19.