The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The GOP declares debate victory for Mike Pence, 90 minutes before it starts

Here are key moments from the face-off between Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence and Democratic rival Tim Kaine in Farmville, Va. (Video: Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

Our sincere congratulations to Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence, who, according to the Republican Party, has emerged victorious in the sole vice-presidential debate of 2016, despite it not having happened yet.

The GOP appears to have accidentally published a draft of a post congratulating Pence on his victory about two hours before the debate actually started. It's not uncommon for communications staffers to prepare statements in advance, of course. It is, however, unusual to make those congratulations live.

The consensus was clear well before the dust settled, it seems!

We have to agree that Pence's forthcoming top moments of the debate were “Economy” and “Highlighting Hillary's scandals.” Who could forget those moments, which we expect to see sometime over the next few hours? Good memories of those things in the future.

Also, congrats to Donald Trump, who earns a little mention in there. But you know who did not win was Hillary Clinton, that's for sure. The GOP had a story ready to go on that, too.

The American people have spoken from the future! They say this: Tonight's biggest loser was Clinton.

We are, by now, used to the distinction between who actually won the debate and who the losing side says won the debate. We also remember that the Trump campaign was running ads blaring “TRUMP WON” even before the first presidential debate ended and that the campaign subsequently embraced garbage online surveys as evidence of his victory. But pre-declaring victory is just a smidge further down the line.

Kaine and Pence face off during the vice-presidential debate in Virginia

Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence, right, and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine stand before the audience during the vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Republican Party, apparently realizing this, retracted both articles. Meaning that the future is yet to be written! We can't wait to see who the GOP thinks actually won the debate — and what top moments the victor might have experienced.

Update: It seems that the GOP also took issue with the questions that hadn’t yet been asked.