I didn’t watch the Veep debate. Veep debates are a sideshow. To judge by the pundits, conservatives were somewhat disappointed by the debate. They were expecting Ryan to trounce Biden. But Biden apparently dominated the debate. He muscled his way to the front of the line by throwing sharp elbows. At least, that’s what the pundits indicate (not having seen it myself).
In a campaign debate, there are two ways to judge the winner:
i) You can judge the winner on the merits. Which candidate gave the best answers? Had the better of the argument? Had the best command of the facts? Had the facts on his side?
ii) However, campaign debates are just a temporary means to an end. The objective of the debate is to influence voters to elect your candidate.
By that measure it’s hard to say who won the debate, because you’re not judging for yourself, based on the merits, but trying to guess the impression it made on swing voters. In theory, pollsters might be able to tell us who won the debate, but, of course, the polls have been dubious in this election cycle because they oversample Democrats.
It may be that many swing voters found Biden’sboorish antics off-putting. Or it may make no difference. According to conventional wisdom, voters vote for the top of the ticket.