On the eve of tonight's debate between incumbent Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), it seems like a good time to check back over the September Pew Research poll that found Americans describing Biden most commonly as something akin to Gimpel the Fool:

Asked for their one-word impression of Joe Biden, more people use negative than positive words to describe the vice president. Many of the negative words disparage Biden’s competence and performance, with idiotincompetent and clown among the terms used most frequently....

Of those offering a word to describe Biden, 38% use negative terms, while 23% give positive words. About four-in-ten (39%) use neutral terms, with vice president among the most common, according to the latest national survey of 1,008 adults by the Pew Research Center and theWashington Post, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 3, 2012.

Even Democrats, notes Pew, are pretty down on Biden when it comes to one-word descriptors. While 63 percent of Republicans predictably use negative words to characterize "Amtrak Joe," even Dems seem lukewarm on the guy, with 45 percent using neutral words (compared to 47 percent using positive terms).

More here.

Will this matter in the debate tonight? I'm not sure (and who knows how Paul Ryan, who can be petulant and wonky, a combination that hurt President Obama in the first presidential debate) but I do hope that the debate, which will cover foreign and domestic issues pores over the unfolding clusterfuck in at the U.S. Consulate in Libya, explains how a Romney/Ryan foreign policy would be less disastrous than Obama's, digs into exactly how the stimulus "worked," and why Ryan's voucher support proposal for Medicare has a snowball's chance of actually reducing the fiscal ruin of the nation.

Reason will be live-tweeting the VP debate (9pm ET-10.30pm ET) right here at Hit & Run, so come back to check out our coverage.

Once more, with feeling: "Joe Biden's War on Christmas"