The vice presidential debate in 5 charts

October 11, 2012

The Fix, like the rest of the political world, is waiting impatiently for tonight's vice presidential debate in Kentucky, which gets under way at 9 pm eastern tonight.

In that down time, we went searching for cool charts and graphics that help set the table for tonight's showdown between Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.  The five -- and yes, it's always five -- we liked the best we put below.  

Got a cool chart, graph or map relating to the vice presidential debate?  Send it to chris.cillizza@wpost.com and we will make sure to add it to this post.

1. Viewership for vice presidential debates has faded in the last twenty years - with the one notable exception being the 2008 event between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, which was watched by 60 million people.  (By comparison, 67 million people watched the first 2012 presidential debate.)

2. The public is split as to who will win tonight's debate, according to Pew -- although independents see Ryan as the likely victor.

3. Vice presidential debates don't change anything. In Gallup polling dating back to 1976, the biggest -- repeat biggest -- change in pre vs post debate polling is three points.

4. Joe Biden is much less popular now than when he debated Palin back in 2008. He's also less popular than Ryan at the moment.

5. People search for the strangest things about the two VP candidates. (Need an explanation of Ryan and "stench"? Check this out. Or an explanation of Biden and "biker"? Click here.)

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and Web site.
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