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VP duel set for tonight in Kentucky

Thursday night marks the duel in Danville, Ky., where Vice President Joe Biden faces Rep.
joe biden and paul ryan 2112406 (2)
joe biden and paul ryan 2112406

Thursday night marks the duel in Danville, Ky., where Vice President Joe Biden faces Rep. Paul Ryan in the only televised vice presidential debate the two will have this election season.

This debate will focus on foreign and domestic policy.  The format is simple: A total of nine 10-minute segments, each with a 2 minute response time, followed by a discussion. It is ABC’s Martha Raddatz’s moderating debut, and expectations are high that she might better control the discussion than moderator Jim Lehrer fared in the first presidential debate last week.

Unfortunately for Vice President Biden, his favorability rating has declined since his 2008 debate with Sarah Palin, according to a recent Pew Research poll. Thirty-nine percent of adults view Biden as favorable while 44% view Ryan as favorable. Another survey conducted by Pew showed that 40% expect 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 as highly watched as the presidential debate.  This year’s debate has even lower viewer expectations with only 54% of voters likely to watch the debate.  For comparison, ahead of the Biden-Palin debate four years ago, 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's "top 5" things to watch for can be found here. As S.E. Cupp explained before last week's presidential debate, with the digital age upon us everyone should have a  Twitter buddy who will tweet you key phrases, help you understand the little nuances each candidate is saying and explain why you should be so interested in tonight’s debate.

With Mitt Romney and President Obama 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 to win the Oval Office.

So how will Biden and Ryan fair in tonight’s debate? Our Cyclists will have full pre-game analysis at 3 p.m. with Krystal Ball live from  Kentucky helping to set the scene on what we can expect from tonight’s debate.