Real Clear Politics Polls: Romney Holds Edge, How VP Debate 2012 Will Impact the Numbers

What effect will the vice presidential debate have on the polls?

On September 30, Real Clear Politics aggregate polling data showed that President Obama had a 4.1% lead over Mitt Romney in the polls. Less than two weeks later, this advantage has completely evaporated, and the Real Clear Politics average now gives Romney a 0.7% edge. This shift can largely be attributed to the president’s poor debate performance. Considering that debates between presidential candidates have already shown their influence on public opinion in this election, will Thursday's vice presidential debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden have an impact on the presidential race?

In 2008, the vice presidential debate had little to no effect on polling data. The vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden took place on October 2, 2008. Real Clear Politics data showed that Obama had a 6.7% advantage over John McCain before the debate. By October 7, the date of the of the next presidential debate between McCain and Obama, polls showed that Obama’s lead trimmed slightly, to only 5.6%. Likewise, the impact of the vice presidential debate in 2008 was negligible. In 2004, the vice presidential debate between John Edwards and Dick Chaney was held on October 5. On the day of the debate, Bush had a 1.6% advantage according the Real Clear Politics aggregate poll. Three days later, the day of the second presidential debate, Bush’s advantage only slightly increased to 2%. Once again, the vice presidential debate did not drastically change the opinion of Americans. In fact, according to Gallup, in the eight vice presidential contests since 1976, the median change in the polls is 1%. 

Do not expect the vice presidential debate to drastically impact the race. However, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will provide an excellent discussion of the issues and two very different debating styles. Ryan’s youthful exuberance will be juxtaposed with Biden’s long track record of experience in the Senate. They both represent two very different schools of economic and political thought and will accordingly be in direct opposition on most policy points throughout the debate. Expect to see a dynamic between the two candidates that resembles a role reversal of the Obama-McCain contests. The Republican will be the younger, fresher, professorial candidate, while the Democrat will be the older, gaffe prone, but more decorated option. 

Thursday's debate should paint a clearer picture for what to expect over the next four years in both a Romney-Ryan and Obama-Biden administration.

The debate will be held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, from 9:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz. For live coverage, including real-time analysis, live stream, and updates, follow along here.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Siv Cheruvu

My name is Sivaram Cheruvu, but I usually go by Siv. I'm a Student at Rutgers University studying Political Science, History, Economics, and French. I have studied in France, interned at a conflict-resolution NGO, and worked on numerous political campaigns in my home state of New Jersey. I enjoy discussing all sorts of issues ranging from politics to sports, and regardless of your viewpoint, I think its always important to bring it to the table.

MORE FROM

8 of the biggest moments from the 48th NYC LGBT Pride March

The biggest Pride event in the world was a sight to behold.

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

8 of the biggest moments from the 48th NYC LGBT Pride March

The biggest Pride event in the world was a sight to behold.

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.