Going into the Vice Presidential debate, I felt that Joe Biden had to win. It would have been devastating if he looked inferior to Palin in any way.
And post-debate polls clearly show that Biden won. He was more knowledgeable, gave more specifics, attacked McCain strongly, and he looked more presidential. For Biden, it was mission accomplished.
Sarah Palin seemed to me to be too “cute” with her attempted zingers and almost smart-alecky lines. She made a comment that Barack wanted to “raise the white flag of surrender” in Iraq, an obviously rehearsed line which actually made Biden laugh for a micro-second or two before he regained his composure.
One of the pundits said that Palin won because she brought something “new” and “fresh” to the debate, and didn’t use typical Washington speak, for example. The thing is, “new” is not the same as “better.”
I happened to glance at Fox News for a second. A cell phone poll of Fox viewers had Palin as the winner by a margin of 86% to 12%! Are those folks out of touch, or what?
I don’t think Biden committed any gaffes. Palin made some half-gaffes. The biggest was her “apparent” agreement with Biden that gays in civil unions deserved the same protections and rights as married couples. It’s notable that in the exchange on the subject, neither Biden nor host Gwen Ifill used the term civil union, although it was obvious to knowledgeable observers that this was the issue. But because that phrase was never used, and didn’t match Palin’s talking points cheat sheet, I don’t think she realized what she was agreeing to.
This debate will not change the dynamics of the race. As one person put it, “Palin survived, but Biden thrived.” Palin did well enough that she erased some of the doubts and fears of GOP supporters concerning her viability as a VP candidate. But I doubt any Democrats or independents were swayed toward McCain after this. In fact, they probably now have a better opinion of Biden, and that’s good news for the Obama-Biden ticket.
And I think there will be at least one benefit for Biden. By raising his profile and name recognition, he’ll will be a better draw on the campaign trail. Although Biden will never have the rock star appeal of Palin, I think he’d be happy to get a few dozen more people to appear at his campaign rallies.