By Nicole Rojas ( | First Posted: Oct 11, 2012 10:19 AM EDT

Visitors walk through the media center on the Centre College campus, a day before the vice-presidential debate, in Danville, Kentucky October 10, 2012. U.S. vice presidential debates usually don't matter much, but the October 11 showdown between Democratic incumbent Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan could be an exception. (Photo : Reuters)

The latest report released by Gallup on Thursday reveals that Americans view Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan almost equally ahead of the vice presidential debate.

According to the report, 44 percent of Americans view Biden favorably and 43 percent view Ryan favorably. This is the first time since the 1992 election that favorable ratings have been so closely matched.

The Gallup report revealed that Biden's 44 percent favorable rating is the lowest pre-debate rating of any Democratic vice presidential candidate in the past six elections. Similarly, Ryan's 43 percent is not much better, although he does rate than Vice President Dan Quayle in 1992 who had a 33 percent favorable rating.

The most favorable rating for a Democratic vice presidential candidate was 63 percent for Al Gore in 1992. For the Republican vice presidential candidates, Sarah Palin was rated favorable 53 percent in the last election.

Vice presidential candidate Ryan may have an edge over Biden, Gallup reported, when it comes to attracting independent voters. A Sept. 24-27 USA Today/Gallup poll found that independents have a 45 percent to 38 percent negative view of Biden, but were evenly split on Ryan.

According to the report, Ryan enjoys a higher favorable rating from his party than Biden does his, 85 percent vs. 78 percent. Biden is also viewed more unfavorable by Republicans, 81 percent, than Ryan is by Democrats, 71 percent.

Biden has maintained a consistent favorable rating among Americans during the Obama administration. During the last presidential election, Biden received a 49 percent favorable rating prior to the vice presidential debate against Sarah Palin. According to Gallup, Biden's favorability among Americans has normally trailed Obama's by about 10 points.

Unlike his opponent, Ryan's public opinion has fluctuated since joining the Mitt Romney campaign. The Republican vice presidential candidate has a 43 percent favorable rating and a 40 percent unfavorable rating. According to Gallup, Ryan's ratings, both favorable and unfavorable, have "increased by a consistent four to five percentage points" since the Republican National Convention.

Biden and Ryan will meet for the vice presidential debate Thursday night at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. A Gallup report released on Wednesday revealed that their debate is unlikely have a major impact among voters.

Two presidential debates remain before the Nov. 6 election. President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney are scheduled to debate on October 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. and on October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Viewers can watch the vice presidential debate between Biden and Ryan Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. 

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