Elections

Flashback: Political ‘Insiders’ Predicted Pence Defeat

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Blake Neff Reporter

Most viewers and pundits believe Indiana Gov. Mike Pence handily defeated Sen. Tim Kaine in Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate. Pence’s solid victory was a rebuke to a set of political “insiders” polled by Politico, most of whom predicted a Kaine victory.

Politico surveyed hundreds of people in its “Politico Caucus,” a collection of Republican and Democratic activists and strategists in 2016 swing states, about who they thought would triumph in Tuesday’s clash. Their prediction, as Politico put it, was that “Trump will sink Pence in VP debate.”

Kaine was the majority pick to win by Politico’s handpicked insiders, mainly because almost all Democratic operatives (97 percent) favored him, while a mere 74 percent of Republicans thought Pence would come out on top. Some Republicans even predicted Pence would get steamrolled.

“Kaine in a blowout,” one Iowa Republican predicted. “He has a personality … Pence goes about it with all the passion of a dead fish.”

A Michigan Republican said Pence was “too ‘Cracker Barrel’ for moderate, upper-middle-class suburban constituencies.”

Other Republicans liked Pence, and even saw him as a future presidential contender, but thought he’d simply be too weighed down by Trump to make an effective showing.

“He has valiantly tried to clean up every mess,” one Ohio Republican said.

But early results suggest that Democrats and skeptical Republicans were completely wrong in their assessment. Pundits from all over the political spectrum said Pence was the better of the two men Tuesday night, and limited data from focus groups and a snap poll indicate voters have the same view. While Kaine’s more ebullient personality was expected to win him the day, he ended up taking flak for interrupting too much and seeming overly aggressive and off-balance. Pence, on the other hand, won praise for his calm demeanor and cautious defense of Trump’s political and verbal eccentricities.

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