Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Notes on the Veep Debate

Vice Presidential debates don't matter, and even if they did it would be hard to imagine a case in which a particular veep debate had less chance to influence an election. And in the minutes following tonight's big event, the media seems to agree that Mike Pence "won." And if we judge these things by who looked better, perhaps he did. (Tim Kaine was antic and aggressive.)

But everyone is focusing on the wrong question. Who "won" the debate is immaterial. The actual question is which campaign benefits from the debate? Kaine was unlikable and interruptive, but with Pence refusing to defend him, Trump was the biggest loser. When challenged with what Trump has actually said and what his actual platform is, Pence flatly denied these things. I expect much of the next 24 hours to be a discussion of whether Trump said all the things Kaine said he did. That's not a good 24 hours for the Trump campaign.

Update, October 5.
One thing we're seeing this morning are Republicans talking about how well Pence did. Not surprising, I suppose, in a campaign as bleak as this one for the GOP. Many are even arguing how much better they'd be doing if he were at the top of the ticket.

That's madness. Pence is one of the most boring pols in the country; he's fairly incompetent as a governor (currently one of the least-popular), and has the kind of social-conservative politics that would seriously hamstring him in a national election. And yet, because Trump is the actual nominee, he looks like a gorgeous delight by contrast. 

This perfectly describes the trouble the GOP are in as a national party. They have on the one hand mainline candidates whose positions were crafted for battles in 1995 and on the other--where all the excitement from the base is--a white nationalist. It exposes, I think, a Humpty-Dumpty scenario. The GOP will try to go back to business as usual, but it's hard m, post-Trump, to see how they put all the pieces back together again.

(At the Congressional, state, and local level, the GOP remains in great shape, which may actually make the national picture all the more intractable.)

Update #2, Oct 7.

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