Debates are about Expectations

Filed in Gather Politics News Channel by on October 1, 2008 0 Comments

On Thursday Sarah Palin and Joe Biden are set to debate, the first and only Vice-Presidential debate of the 2008 election cycle.  This week we have seen Joe Biden say that he believes that Sarah Palin will be well prepared for the debate and will do well.  What the Democrats and Biden have been trying to do is raise Palin's expectations in the debate and hopefully lower his a little.  The Republicans on the other hand have actually been playing by different rules for the debate.  Republicans have not actually tried to lower or raise expectations; they have allowed the Democrats to do all the expectation talk for themselves. 

After two disastrous interviews the expectations for Thursday’s debate actually are much lower for Palin, which means her just showing up might actually allow her to meet the expectations.  It hasn’t been since 1988 when Dan Quayle was the Republican Veep choice that expectations have been so low for a candidate.  In the press there has been some debate on what Biden actually must do to win this debate and look more favorably. 

Biden has a habit of sounding almost like a know it all in debates and sometimes comes off as being condescending, which in this forum would actually hurt him then help him.  If Biden answers the questions and doesn’t come off as a know it all and allow Palin to hang herself he will actually come out on top.  But debates aren’t so much a contest of who knows what, but really just a contest on expectations.  In 2000 when Bush debated Gore, Gore came across as impatient and not willing to listen to the other view points.  He was caught sighing in the debates and by doing that Bush looked like the better guy, and more presidential.  In 1992 George HW Bush actually checked his watch, and looked impatient and looked as thought he truly didn’t care and just wanted to be out of there.  Those actions hurt those candidates and actually made it so they didn’t meet the expectations.  In 1988 Quayle had very low expectations going into the debate; his expectations were so low that he actually met expectations just by showing up.

This debate on Thursday may just be the same for Palin.  If Palin goes into the debate and doesn’t make any major gaffe she will have exceeded expectations for the debate and just might come out the victor and will undoubtedly get the conservatives off the back of McCain.  But if she makes just one mistake she can truly hurt her and McCain that could very well make the difference between winning and losing. 

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