More than 70 million people tuned in Thursday night to watch Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden face off in the 2008 Vice Presidential debate– nearly 20 million more than the first Presidential debate Sept. 26.Biden was declared the winner according to 46 percent of 473 uncommitted voters in a CBS and Knowledge Networks survey. 21 percent thought Palin faired better while 33 percent said it was a tie.
Both campaigns asserted that their candidate was the winner Thursday night after the debate.
“Tonight, Gov. Palin proved beyond any doubt that she is ready to lead as Vice President of the United States,” McCain-Palin 2008 Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker said. “She won this debate, putting Joe Biden on defense on energy, foreign policy, taxes and the definition of change. Governor Palin laid bare Barack Obama’s record of voting to raise taxes, opposing the surge in Iraq, and proposing to meet unconditionally with the leaders of state sponsors of terror.”
“Joe Biden won a clear victory tonight because he made a passionate case for change from the disastrous economic and foreign policies of the last eight years and Sarah Palin defended them,” Obama-Biden campaign manager David Plouffe said. “Joe Biden spoke clearly and strongly about Barack Obama’s plan for a tax cut for the middle class, health care that is affordable, and an end to the war in Iraq. Tonight, the American people saw why Barack Obama chose Joe Biden…who clearly has the experience and knowledge to be a great Vice President.”
Both candidates demonstrated their knowledge of critical issues during the debate. According to the same CBS and Knowledge Networks survey, after the debate, 66 percent of uncommitted voters found that Palin was knowledgeable on important issues compared to 43 percent pre-debate. After the debate 98 percent of uncommitted voters found that Biden was knowledgeable compared to 79 percent before the debate.
“They both did fine,” said West Chester University communications professor David Levasseur. “Everyone was worried that Joe Biden would say something condescending or that Sarah Palin would be incoherent but neither did either of those things.”
In honor of Thursday night’s Vice Presidential debate, Levasseur and WCU communications professor Kevin W. Dean hosted Debate Watch, an event sponsored by the Honors College and the WCU Forensics Team. Students watched the vice presidential debate in Sykes Ballrooms, then answered survey questions which will be sent to the University of Kansas, and fed to USA Today which will publish the nationwide results.
“As an educated person, it’s important to be well-versed in issues of the current political atmosphere, especially in a year like this with such an important election,” said first-year WCU student Ruth Alny.
The debate viewing was then followed by a 20 minute political discussion. Most students found Biden to be the winner.
“Senator Biden gave more coherent answers and actually addressed most of the questions directed to him, so he won in my book,” said Alny.
Levasseur determined the winner in a different way.
“Palin faired better because part of winning a debate is exceeding expectations and Palin did just that.”
Karen Blyton is a first-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at KB666213@wcupa.edu