Gallup: VP debates rarely change voters’ minds

The last eight debates between vice presidential candidates had a very small effect on which party voters supported, Gallup polling firm reported today.

Vice President Joe Biden and Janesville Rep. Paul Ryan meet in their only debate tomorrow night in Kentucky. The debate begins at 8 p.m.

And while there’s a good amount of hype surrounding the debate, especially following President Barack Obama’s weak performance in the first presidential debate, Gallup says history predicts voters won’t care.

“The chances that Thursday’s vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will have a major impact on the 2012 presidential race are small, according to an analysis of Gallup trends. None of the eight vice presidential debates occurring from 1976 to 2008 appears to have meaningfully altered voter preferences.”

Gallup’s best guesses at why voters don’t shift following VP debates: They’re more focused on the top of the ticket, the debate happens too late or debates overall don’t change minds.

But history hasn’t stopped the campaigns from spinning before the debate. The latest example is this web video released tonight by the Obama campaign:

What’s your take? Can either vice presidential candidate influence your decision in November tomorrow night? Do the presidential debates have any effect?

About Kathleen Foody

Investigative reporter for Gannett Wisconsin Media, based in Wausau. Follow me on Twitter @katie_foody, Facebook www.facebook.com/kathleenfoodywdh or e-mail at kfoody@gannett.com.
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