On Thursday the Vice Presidential debate will occur, testing Vice President Joe Biden versus Republican hopeful Paul Ryan.
Joe Biden will probably win that debate.
Let's look at the reasons why. Firstly, there's the expectations game. Media and public expectations are very low for Biden. He's a gaffe-machine, they say. He's stupid. He always puts his foot into his mouth. On the other hand, Paul Ryan is portrayed as a GOP genius, a policy wonk who knows his numbers.
It's kind of the opposite of what happened with the presidential debate, where expectations were high for Obama and relatively low for Romney - despite the fact that Obama, never a great debater, hadn't debated in four years while Romney had dozens under his belt. The expectations game was contrary to the facts, which pointed towards a good Romney performance.
The facts are in favor of Joe Biden. Joe Biden is probably rusty at debating; he hasn't done so since 2008. On the other hand, Paul Ryan has never debated in this format in his life. Perhaps Ryan will prove to be a natural at debating. But the facts say that Biden has much more experience than Ryan at this sport. That points towards a Biden victory.
There's also the fact that Joe Biden is actually a pretty good debater. In fact, Joe Biden is a better debater than Barack Obama. In the Democratic primaries Biden, despite his polling deficit, provided not just one but two memorable moments. Remember this?
That's Biden dealing a devastating one-liner: "There's only three things he [Giuliani] mentions in a sentence -- a noun, a verb, and 9/11." That statement was a very bad blow to Giuliani's presidential aspects. It's one of those punchy lines Obama has never been able to pull off in a debate.
Here's the second memorable moment. Unfortunately the only Youtube video available with the content has a prolonged commentary; go to the thirtieth second to get to the good part.
That's Biden responding extremely effectively to a pointed question. When Brian Williams asks him if he has the discipline necessary on the world stage, Biden simply says "Yes" and grins as the crowd laughs. His response is all the more impressive given the fact that he had only a few seconds to make up that answer on the spot.
The only advantage I can really think of that Ryan has is his age. It's possible that Biden's age might be catching up to him. He might not be as mentally sharp as he was four years ago.
Still, we know that Biden's a pretty decent debater, and we know that he's had some experience debating before (in which he performed very well). We also know that this Thursday will be the first time in his life that Paul Ryan goes on that stage. Finally, we know that people have high expectations for Ryan and low expectations for Biden. Under these circumstances, a Ryan victory would be surprising indeed.