Republicans, brace yourselves for a loss.
After a victorious debate for challenger Gov. Mitt Romney, stakes are high for President Obama's running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, going into his debate with Rep. Paul Ryan Thursday evening - and odds are the elder statesman will win this playground fight.
Two reasons this outcome seems inevitable:
First, being 27 years older gives Biden, 69, the upper hand both in terms of numerous national debates and in his experience on issues like foreign policy.
Second, Biden's not winning right now.
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The latest Pew poll that Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast called "devastating, just devastating" shows Obama was in the lead - 51-43 - before last week's crushing defeat. Now, Romney leads 49-45 giving Romney a 12-point swing.
Gallup's survey showed that 72 percent of debate watchers awarded victory to Romney compared with just 20 percent for Obama - a historic 52-point gap.
So, Biden's got lots of ground to make up and Ryan's got precious ground to defend. Since the presidential debate ended up mattering, it's not unreasonable to suggest the VP debate could also be an important factor in polling.
Here's how Ryan can do no harm:
- Make a convincing case for his ticket to the middle class
- Avoid the pitfalls of "insider," wonk speak and loosen up a tad
- Prepare excellent, airtight soundbites on Medicare and ObamaCare
- Get ready for the hits on women's issues and marriage equality
- Double-down on the foreign affairs failures and hit the embassy attacks and murders hard
- Most importantly, debate Obama not Biden and tie all the last four year's of the nation's failures to the current Administration.
Ryan's fully aware that he'll be in a bloody UFC match:
"Obviously, what we expect is the vice president's going to come at me like a cannonball," Ryan told The Weekly Standard. "He'll be in full attack mode, and I don't think he'll let any inconvenient facts get in his way.
But even former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who played Sarah Palin at debate camp with Biden four years ago, acknowledged the Dems fear Ryan's breadth and depth of budget knowledge, an enormous advantage in the current economy, and his uncanny ability to think clearly on the spot.
"Paul Ryan is an inside Washington guy, smart and wonky. He knows the budget better than anybody."
The good (and bad) news for the Democrats, Biden's got a long leash.
Even a Biden victory tomorrow night will not undo what Obama did last week, but the incumbent's team hopes to erase and replace those listless moments in the minds of voters leading into the next debate with Romney on foreign and domestic policy.
It's a tall order and one that's not likely to fool the public much after last week's epic thumping.
But good old Joe's gonna do his right good best.
**Watch tomorrow night's debate at 9 p.m. ET moderated by Martha Raddatz, ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent. The debate is hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Debate topics will cover foreign and domestic policy and be divided in nine time segments of about 10 minutes each.
- Follow me @erica_holloway.
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