The people who watch debates love politics, and love watching people argue. That is why people thought Mitt Romney won when he stayed on offense the whole time, and why people thought Joe Biden won when he did the same thing. Why are so many journos programmed to think it’s bad news for Democrats whenever they assert themselves? That is a bunch of stuff!
John Sides brings the political science:
Here’s some breaking news: the kind of people who choose to watch a vice-presidential debate instead of baseball or football or a cooking show are not sensitive souls who curl up into a ball at the first sign of disagreement between politicians. People who choose to watch political conflict can deal with it. Those who can’t—or just aren’t interested in the first place—are watching something else. Research by political scientists Kevin Arceneaux and Martin Johnson shows this.