Showdown in St. Louis
Before the Saturday
Night Live skits, network
news interviews, and ever-shifting horserace
polls, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's game-changing speech
at the Republican National Convention foreshadowed the buzz we're seeing this
week in the lead up to tomorrow night's vice presidential debate in St. Louis,
In fact, it seems more people are talking about Thursday
night's debate between Palin and Sen. Joe Biden than were the first
presidential debate last Friday. Interestingly, the largest percentage of
viewers for the first debate were in the
But beyond the Arch are communities that are still processing McCain's surprising choice, and pundits who are reiterating the unvarying historical fact that debates - and vice presidential ones in particular - rarely have much to do with predicting the election winner.
Dante Chinni spoke with communities across the
Judging from the reaction in some of Patchwork Nation's most socially conservative communities, the McCain camp might face a massive revolt from the people who were so enthusiastic about Palin's selection.
"I think a lot of Nixa people would be angry if she were removed from the
ticket," wrote John Schmalzbauer, a blogger in
People we contacted in Nixa, our "Evangelical Epicenter" community, uniformly said that such a move would not happen - or if it did, the town would be up in arms. Many also said they expected her to do well in Thursday's vice-presidential debate.
Donald King, a professor at
Will Thursday's debate have an impact in the long run? Adam Nagourney at The New York Times points out that "In truth, the political potency of this 90-minute debate is questionable... there are so many unusual things about the contest between Ms. Palin and Mr. Biden that the debate could just as possibly be another forgotten burst in a campaign that has been filled with such moments."
But Thursday's moment still requires a huge amount of preparation. Both Biden and Palin have been off the radar most of the week, studying the issues and getting ready. NewsHour's Debating Our Destiny gives an in-depth look at how candidates prepare for the debates. 1984 Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro gave her insight on the process.
"If you ask me a question, don't tell me what the question is in advance, cause I'd rather not know. I'd rather give you a spontaneous direct response to it. I also lose interest if I have to go over and over and over again because it looks to me if you're practicing it becomes artificial. So I just find the whole process very tedious," she said.
NewsHour senior correspondent Gwen Ifill will be moderating Thursday's debate. Tune in at 9pm ET or watch online. If you have feedback about PBS' coverage, please contact the Ombudsman at email@example.com.