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Who won the 2016 vice-presidential debate?

After an hour and a half of barrages and attacks it seems that the Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, has recovered some respect for Trump’s campaign, having been declared the winner of the debate.

Republican governor (IN) and Vice presidential candidate Mike Pence
Republican Governor (IN) and Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence

In a closely contested debate, with 48% of viewers proclaiming he won (CNN poll), Pence  provided a much-needed lifeline for the floundering Trump campaign. The way that Pence stayed in control of the debate, starkly contrasting Trump, is one of the main reasons he won.

Tim Kaine appeared to be constantly cutting across his opponent, highlighting Trump’s failure to pay tax, his comments about Mexicans and his blatant misogyny. This method was not effective and gave Pence the advantage, allowing his more measured and statesman-like style to shine through.

The moderation of the debate was dire, despite being a victory for diversity, with Elaine Quijano the first Asian American woman to moderate a VP contest. The questions were predictable and poorly delivered, with topics such as the effect of faith on their lives and US foreign policy and little focus on domestic policy. Additionally Pence, despite many shrugs and sighs, refused to defend Trump at seven different moments during the debate. Before he was chosen as the VP candidate, Pence had called Trump’s attempts to justify the shutdown of Muslims entering the United States unconstitutional and illegal.

The heated debate was won marginally by Pence and after the damage Clinton had inflicted earlier in the week it was necessary for Trump’s political survival. However, VP debates generally have little effect on the electorate and the election as a whole.