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Previewing the Vice Presidential Debate

We are only 26 days away until Decision 2012 is made.

We are only 26 days away until Decision 2012 is made. But tonight marks the duel in Danville, Kentucky where Vice President Biden faces Representative Ryan in the only Vice Presidential debate the two will have this election season. The format for the debate is simple: 9, 10-minute segments, each with a 2 minute response time followed by a discussion. The debate focus will be on foreign and domestic policy.  It is ABC’s Martha Raddatz’s moderating debut, and many are hoping she’ll be able to control both candidates better than last week.

Unfortunately for Vice President Biden his favorability view has declined since his 2008 debate with Sarah Palin, according to a recent Pew Research poll. 39% of adults view Biden as favorable while 44% view Ryan as favorable. Another survey conducted by Pew shows that 40% expected Ryan to do a better job in tonight’s debate compared to the 34% who expect Biden to succeed.

While many expect tonight’s debate to be entertaining, it is unclear if this debate will alter the polls. According to Gallup, no VP debate in the 36 year history of televised VP debates, has meaningfully altered voter preferences. One reason is that the Vice Presidential is not a highly watched television event, as is the Presidential debate.  This year’s debate has even lower viewer expectations with only 54% of voters say they are likely to watch the debate.  That’s compared to the Biden-Palin debate 4 years ago where 69% said they were very likely to watch, and as we now know, 2008 generated the largest VP audience ever with 70 million viewers.

So what should we all be watching for in tonight’s debate? Politico came out with the top 5 things we should all watch for, you can find that here and don’t forget your Twitter buddy who can always help you understand the little nuances each candidate is saying and explain why you should be so interested in tonight’s debate.

With Romney and the President neck and neck in the polls it is becoming clear that every debate, campaign speech, and action each candidate (and vice presidential candidate) takes in the next 26 days matters in order to get as many votes as they can and win the Oval Office.  So how will Biden and Ryan each fair in tonight’s debate? Our Cyclists will have full pre-game analysis at 3pm with Krystal Ball live in Danville, Kentucky helping set the scene on what we can expect from tonight’s debate.