Who Interrupted The Most During The Vice Presidential Debate? Tim Kaine & Mike Pence Love To Talk Over Each Other
Well, the first vice presidential debate is in the books! It was a surprisingly testy, but ultimately pretty conventional affair, with Democratic nominee Tim Kaine firing some caustic broadsides at Republican nominee Mike Pence. Or more frequently, the Indiana governor's running mate, Donald J. Trump. And whatever you thought of the substance (Pence flatly denied reality a number of times, and notably failed to defend Trump's rhetoric on a slew of issues), this much was plainly, statistically clear: Kaine interrupted a lot more than Pence did, and it'll be for the viewers to decide what they thought of that.
If you're looking for a by-the-numbers breakdown, you won't find a better example than the one over at the highly regarded polling site FiveThirtyEight, which actually tracked all the interruptions in the debate, from front to back. To be clear, their figures draw a distinction between "interruptions" and "fleeting interjections" ― the former being when the interrupter successfully halts their opponent and steals the speaking time, and the latter being when someone talks over the other, but fails to actually seize control.
As you probably saw if you watched, there's no doubt that Kaine interrupted aggressively from the start of the debate to the finish. And according to FiveThirtyEight's analysis, that's true both of full-fledged interruptions, and the fleeting variety.
According to the graph above, Pence had about 35 fleeting interjections, and a mere five or six full-fledged interruptions. Kaine, by comparison, was peppering Pence's remarks with fleeting interruptions galore ― he had more than 60 of them, as well as more than ten full interruptions.
It was effectively the 2012 Joe Biden experience on steroids ― during his clash with then-GOP vice presidential nominee and current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Biden was free and loose with the interruptions, playing a sort of alpha-male game with the decades-younger Wisconsin congressman. In this case, however, it didn't seem to go down quite as smoothly ― whereas Biden has a firmness, gravitas, and even humor, Kaine sounded more than a little hectoring.
That said, it's worth remembering that even if a majority come away thinking that Pence won (and that can't be judged until some truly scientific polls come out), vice presidential debates historically have a pretty minimal impact on the shape of the race. But for one single, solitary night, we all got to see Kaine play the aggressor ― it'll be interesting to see how the public felt about it.