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Biden-Ryan debate: why it doesn’t matter, and why it does (+video)

Vice presidential debates have no history of swinging presidential races. But after President Obama's subpar performance last week, Vice President Joe Biden faces pressure Thursday night.

Monitor Correspondent Liz Marlantes has some thoughts on how vice presidential debates don't matter.
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Vice presidential debates are usually just a curiosity. The two people on stage are the understudies, not the tops of their tickets. Voters vote for president, not vice president. And despite the history of memorable zingers in veep debates – see Democrat Lloyd Bentsen telling Republican Dan Quayle in 1988, “You’re no Jack Kennedy” – these showdowns of No. 2’s have no history of swinging a presidential race.

As such, Thursday night’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan almost certainly won’t directly affect the outcome of the race. But after last week’s first presidential debate, in which President Obama was widely perceived to have delivered a subpar performance, the heat is on Mr. Biden to halt the Romney-Ryan ticket’s momentum.

The latest poll average on Real Clear Politics shows GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney now ahead of President Obama by 0.8 percentage points – well within the margin of error, but still a significant reversal from Mr. Obama’s 4.3 percent lead on Sept. 29. By the Oct. 3 debate, Obama’s lead had already begun narrowing, and the Obama campaign insists the race was always going to be close, but there’s no denying that Biden is under pressure to perform well Thursday.

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