(LIN) — Polls, polls, everywhere are polls.
Gallup, Rasmussen, NBC, CBS, CNN, AP/GfK – Sometimes polls seem more like alphabet soup than a way to clearly measure results.
This certainly proves true after the vice presidential debate, where there seemed to be no clear winner. A wide range of polls picked both candidates as victors.
What is clear is that with two debates down and two left before Election Day, both campaigns have shown distinct differences in policy and personality.
Here's what we know, going off of what we've seen in the debates so far.
President Barack Obama
A cool, relaxed Obama stood before the audience Oct. 3 in the first presidential debate. Some, though, think his demeanor was a little too cool, citing missed opportunities to use a certain "47 percent" comment and Bain Capital against his opponent. The morning after the debate, many news outlets decidedly believed that that Obama lost the debate, saying he wasn't ready for Romney to come out swinging. To succeed in the next debate, Obama will have to stay focused, romance the middle class even more and get witty – all things the president is already good at.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney
Romney not only came out swinging, but he took the moderator out with him. Moderator Jim Lehrer was repeatedly interrupted and lost control many times to both candidates, mostly Romney. He appeared presidential, speaking clearly and eloquently and contrasting himself with the weak economic numbers under the president's time in office. To keep the GOP momentum strong in the next debate, Romney will have to appear even more personable and brush up on his foreign policy talking points.
Vice President Joe Biden
Although questioned on his many laughs and lighthearted facial expressions, Biden brought an arsenal of facts and figures to the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate. The vice president appeared wise, confident and true to Obama's leadership – something Obama supporters were counting on in the vice president. Biden did what he needed to do to get the memories of Obama's debate experience out of the minds of voters.
Rep. Paul Ryan
Ryan is known for being an economic and budget wiz in Congress, but he stepped up to the foreign policy and social issues plate in the vice presidential debate. Some argue that though Ryan is young enough to be Biden's son, he appeared more mature and professional in the debate. Biden may have called "malarkey" on Ryan's thoughts on Libya, but the vice president couldn't explain why Ryan's points weren't sound.
In the end, how these four men were received during the debates may have an affect on the polls, but unless something catastrophically newsworthy happens in the next two debates, expect the poll numbers to stay steady.
Presidential debates matter more than their running mates' debates, but what all four men have in common is their ability to generate buzz (or redirect it).
Regardless of what the polls say about who's ahead in the race, the true victors will be measured on they play the whole game, not just the last innings.
The next debate is Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The debate will be moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley and will take the form of a town hall meeting.
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