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Republicans are looking to vice presidential nominee Mike Pence to help the GOP ticket regain momentum with a strong performance at Tuesday’s vice presidential debate.  

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had a mixed debate performance on Monday — he came out of the gate strong, but scientific polls conducted after the debate all show that voters believe Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton ultimately got the better of him.  

Since then, the campaign has been caught in a negative headline vortex as Trump and his allies continue to spar with Democrats over his treatment of a former Miss Universe who gained weight after she won the crown.  

{mosads}Now the campaign turns to Pence in the hopes of steadying concerns from Republicans and besting the Democrats on the national stage.  

“What he’s going to do … much like Ivanka has done with her dad, is continue to shine a light on him that is not the narrative within the liberal press and the Clinton campaign,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a vocal Trump supporter. 

“The best thing you’ll see from Mike Pence is a reassuring message to America that he knows Donald Trump as a person outside of a rally … and no one should have worries about the temperament of Donald Trump as president and commander in chief.”  

Collins added that Pence, Indiana’s governor and a former congressman, will be uniquely valuable to the ticket on the debate stage because he can push back on concerns about Trump’s temperament, which he argued are easier to relieve than Clinton’s “Achilles’ heel” that people don’t like her.  

So far, both Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine have been overshadowed by the tops of their tickets.  

Polling averages from The Huffington Post Pollster show Pence with a stronger favorability rating of the two vice presidential candidates — 36 percent to 30 percent — but more than a third of the electorate doesn’t have an opinion on either.  

That makes Tuesday’s debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., a small town outside of Richmond, the best chance for the two men to move the needle with the American people. 

Vice presidential debate ratings typically run behind those of presidential debates — outside of 2008, when intrigue about Sarah Palin stoked intrigue helped lead to a Neilson-estimated record of 70 million viewers.

While this matchup will likely fall short of the Clinton-Trump debate’s 80 million viewers, vice presidential debates are almost assured to pull in tens of millions of viewers.  

But if Tuesday’s debate has a tangible effect on the polls, it would be a large break from precedent. 

A Gallup analysis of its polling trends surrounding vice presidential debates from 1976 to 2008 found that none appear to “have meaningfully altered voter preferences,” noting that voters are focused on the top of the ticket. 

“There’s no evidence the vice presidential debate has any influence whatsoever on the top of the ticket,” Baruch College debate expert David Birdsell told The Hill. 

While he noted that vice presidential debates have included some of the presidential race’s most amusing moments, even those haven’t moved the needle. The only way Birdsell could see the debate affecting the polls is if “something truly unprecedented” happened.  

But some Trump supporters believe this debate might go differently, thanks in part to the historic unpopularity of Trump and Clinton.  

Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican congresswoman who has emerged as one of the most vocal Trump surrogates, told The Hill that while past vice presidential debates have been “yawners,” she expects some “home runs” this time, particularly by Pence.   

“We have two of the most unpopular nominees at the top of the ticket that we’ve ever had, so people will watch the debate to see who will be an influencer,” she said.  

“I think this is going to be a movement moment for many of the independents.”  

That dynamic will play out in Trump’s favor, Collins predicted, and help Republicans close the deal.  

“The undecideds, with Hillary in the public eye for the past 30 years, they’ve really decided. They don’t want to vote for her; they just haven’t warmed up to Donald Trump yet,” he said.  

“The undecideds are desperately looking for a way to be comfortable with Donald Trump because they don’t want Hillary Clinton. Mike Pence will help soothe some of those fears, put those fears to bed.” 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Marsha Blackburn Mike Pence Tim Kaine

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