One thing I will say about the VP debate, is that it was definitely more interesting and football-game like than the first presidential debate last Friday. Partly, this is because with Sarah Palin becoming a national punchline last week and with the McCaine campaign's erratic behaviour in the same time period, America was really waiting for this debate to prove something. No, wait, why am I being nice? America was waiting for Palin to prove something. Unlike the Obama/McCaine debate, this was not seen as a game that was being played on equal terms, where Sarah Palin was clearly viewed as disadvantaged in terms of her basic question-answering skills as displayed in the Couric and Gibson interviews.
While all sides of the political spectrum focused on Sarah Palin's awaited performance (no one was really talking about Biden last week at all were they?Let's admit one thing, Palin is definitely more interesting than Biden), depending on where you stood you either looked forward to Palin bombing the debate with a series of badly composed sentences and blank stares, or hoped that Palin would restore her image as the down-to-earth vitality serum of the Republican ticket.
If you were one of those Palinofiles, or just a Republican hoping to dear God that Sarah Palin would stop embarassing you, this was a pretty good night. Clearly the Republicans did a good job of prepping Palin for this night, and she had a whole bunch of names (one of which she got wrong repeatedly although Biden was nice enough not to call her out on it) and figures in her head and ,I think , did a good job of regaining her status as an asset to the Republican ticket when it came to their own base.
Basically Palin exceeded all expectations(and it must be said, they were quite low), and seemed to connect well with voters on energy issues and social/cultural issues. If you were a Republican that was becoming less and less confident about your choice last week, today you're probably going to vote for McCaine and never look back. Palin came off as the down to earth Washington outsider (although I found her extremely insincere and rehearesed) and a positively sexy soccer mom (OMG did you see that glittery U.S. flag entwined with an "S" brooch?).
That having been said, Biden won this debate. He got more comfortable and clearly stronger as the debate progressed while Palin started off stronger than she ended. He was more articulate, had vastly more substance on all issues specifically (and in my opinion, particularly drastically) the economy and foreign policy, and did well keeping up with Palin's I-know-what-it's-like-to-rough-it-I'm-just-like-you talk. While Palin did well for Palin, and not bad at all by most standards, she didn't do enough to sway undecided voters, and this election hinges on that small percentage of undecided voters. To the unsure voter, I don't think Palin proved that she was as qualified as Biden (in my opinion despite her performance tonight she still isn't qualified period) to be number two in the United States government.
The earliest polls say that voters agree with me: while both Palin and Biden did much better than expected, voters who watched the debate with a considerable although not massive margin, believe Biden triumphed. 51% siad Biden did better, while only 36% thought Palin did better. At the end of the day, matter of fact seems to have won over folksy. My projection is that if you are an undecided voter, the more educated you are the less likely you are to have been swayed by Palin. Overall, I still don't think this debate was conclusive in terms of the presidential race.
The early verdict? Palin did well for herself, but not so much for the McCaine campaign: the effect of the debate was to allow Palin (and McCaine) to survive another day (and perhaps give Palin a shot at the 2012 presidential elections, as frightening a thought as that is) but not enough of a boost to end up ahead in the race. Still, it continues to be a close election and we will only really know come November 4th.