If you do a quick Google search of “VP Debate Poll” the first five results read something like this: “Biden Shreds Ryan,” “Vice Presidential Debate Shows Mixed Results,” “Ryan Beats Sitting Vice President,” “Insta Polls Show Split Decision in VP Debate,” and so forth. Needless to say, no one can quite pinpoint how the undecided voter will react to the mix of giggles, smiles, and wit that transpired on the stage last week.

Republicans will paint the picture of Vice President Biden as the ever-confused, rarely correct politician who laughed in confusion from the tremendous amount of math and statistics Congressman Ryan threw his way. Or possibly, they will look at Biden as an overconfident fool, shouting and screaming in an attempt to appear knowledgeable. But ask Democrats what excuse the Vice President had for laughing out loud during parts of Ryan’s responses and they will simply tell you that Biden was so overwhelmed by the amount of lies and incorrect facts Ryan was spewing that he couldn’t help but laugh. Simply put each party has their ways to distort the facts and proclaim themselves winners.

But the major question we should all ask, and what the media has been unable to correctly answer, is this: how did the public perceive Joe Biden? As an overconfident politician or as an educated Democrat, or maybe just a working class Irishman? Despite the large amount of substantive policy put forth by both candidates last night, for those few undecided voters Biden’s gaffes will presumably play a much larger role in how the Obama campaign is perceived by voters. Are they taking into account that either Biden or Ryan could possibly become President over the course of the next few years? What are those tricky undecided voters that each campaign is clamoring to impress with millions upon millions of dollars actually thinking?

I couldn’t correctly answer how Biden’s gaffes will play leading up to November, and neither could most of my classmates, for we are all viewing the debate through the lenses of party affiliation. But what seems clear is there was no real outcome from last night’s debate. The substance was ignored in favor of the ridiculous gestures of our vice president. All we learned was that Biden has a tendency to smile at inappropriate times because that has been the media’s focus. Democrats will see the debate as an easy victory in their favor because of the amount of times Biden spoke over Ryan. Republicans will declare the debate a win because Ryan spoke with authority while discussing the disasters of the past four years. Either way, unlike the first presidential debate, deciding who won last week is not an easy task, and in truth we may not know the full effect Biden had on the audience’s perception until November.

Caitlyn Jarvis | Saint Anselm College | @caitlynjarvis