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October 6, 2004
VP Debate: The Aftermath

Vice President Dick Cheney trounced Senator John Edwards in the debate last night, a verdict delivered almost unanimously by the mainstream-media pundits as well as an ABC poll of questionably methodology taken in its aftermath:

Dick Cheney prevailed in the vice presidential debate with help from a more Republican audience and more support from his ticket's side than John Edwards got from his. Among registered voters who watched the debate, 43 percent said Cheney won, 35 percent called Edwards the winner and 19 percent called it a tie. One factor is that more Republicans tuned in 38 percent of viewers were Republicans, 31 percent Democrats, the rest independents.

One explanation for the oversample is that Republicans may have been more likely to tune in, especially after Bush's struggles last Thursday. At least this poll attempted a scientific method; CBS used only 178 so-called "undecided" voters found, ironically, by Knowledge Networks. (If they had knowledge, why are they still undecided?) CBS claims that Edwards won, 41-28, a result that will cause gales of laughter at other networks, especially the CBS claim that a tiny, artificial group of people selected for their supposed indifference to political choice is "scientifically representative".

More telling are the reactions of the MSM to the Edwards debacle. Fox News's panel, as would be expected, had Cheney the winner by 3-1, with two of the three qualifying their answer by saying they thought Edwards did well in domestic issues but that foreign policy would carry the day in this debate. MS-NBC's panel, headed by Chris Matthews -- no friend to the GOP or Dick Cheney -- scored it a shutout:

Chris Matthews:

I think the analogy would be a water pistol against a machine gun. Every once in a while, Edwards would take a squirt at the vice president, and then the vice president would just turn the Howitzer on the guy.

It was all the points about attendance record that's tremendous amount of homework the Republican candidate for V.P. did here. I don't think the well-rehearsed and well-briefed senator from North Carolina was ready for the assault. ...

Jon Meacham, Newsweek Managing Editor

"Will the liberal press admit that Cheney" won? That's a very good question. I think that the vice president did very, very well. He turned in a strong and serene performance, compared to Edwards, who I think seemed like Kerry-lite.

Edwards seemed to have series of talking points he wanted to get in. A lot of them direct echoes of Kerry, but he did not offer them with the same authority. I think John Edwards was busy delivering a stump speech all night, while Dick Cheney showed up as the trial lawyer. ...

Andrea Mitchell

I think Dick Cheney did awfully well at, first of all, putting John Edwards in his place, saying that I have been presiding over the Senate and I didn't meet you until tonight. Talking about his not having been on the job was pretty devastating. ...

Joe Scarborough

I tell you, tonight, no doubt about it. Edwards got obliterated by Dick Cheney. This is the most surprising part:This debate actually turned in Cheney's direction when they started talking about domestic issues. I thought Cheney handled the foreign policy issues very well. But when they talked about taxes, there you had John Edwards saying, "Well, we support middle-class taxes." Dick Cheney says, "Yes, you didn't even vote for them this week. You weren't there." ...

I think the SNL shot, the Saturday Night Live shot this weekend is actually going to be the reactions, the facial reactions that John Edwards has every time he's zinged. There is no doubt about it. He was in over his head tonight.

When John Edwards can't get any love from Chris Matthews and the Hardball lineup -- you know he's crashed and burned.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 6, 2004 6:08 AM

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Tracked on October 6, 2004 11:34 AM

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