by Jonathan Singer, Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 06:38:44 PM EDT
Sarah Palin acquitted herself more effectively tonight than she did with Katie Couric. The problem is that this wasn't enough. Despite the talk from some that the bar Palin had to top was well underground, Palin had to not only deliver a performance free of gaffes (and it's not clear to me that she even did this -- embracing Dick Cheney and mistaking the top General in Afghanistan with a Civil War-era General were not particularly smooth), she had to seem credible as Vice President. She had to have gravitas.
But after an hour and a half of going up against Joe Biden, at least the second half of which she appeared flat on her feet and unable to conjure up all of her empty talking points, she did not come off as Vice Presidential. She sounded like a moderately effective surrogate -- a little better than a Carly Fiorina, not as good as a Mitt Romney -- but not as an able partner to John McCain, and certainly not as one who could step in as President should God forbid anything happen to McCain.
In this regard, this was not a successful debate for the McCain-Palin ticket. While it may have staved off the hemorrhaging of support for the Republicans, it did little to nothing to swing the momentum back away from the Obama-Biden ticket.Update [2008-10-2 22:42:32 by Todd Beeton]:Totally agree with Jonathan here. It's funny, the post-debate buzz on CNN seems to be that "it wasn't a game changer" but I have to say, I think this was only close to a draw in a political sense, from an expectations vs. reality perspective. Sure she didn't fall on her face. But looking at it as a debate and even as a political event, I think it was so monumentally clear who won this thing and I think viewers will concur it was Joe Biden. As David Gergen said, this was "the debate of Joe Biden's life." Watch perhaps Joe's finest moment in the debate below and I dare you to keep a dry eye.
Update [2008-10-2 22:44:17 by Todd Beeton]:Umm, CNN has like 12 people on stage all with laptops to give their analysis. 12 people, really? MSNBC it is.
Update [2008-10-2 22:50:36 by Todd Beeton]:On my way to MSNBC I stopped on FOX and saw some of the Luntz focus group. 4 people said they switched their vote as a result of the debate: 3 to McCain, 1 to Obama. Luntz: "This debate will make a difference in this race. Watch the polling in the next 48 hours."
Update [2008-10-2 23:11:56 by Jonathan Singer]: Pay heed to Judd Legum, Hillary Clinton's research director, who wrote last week "Ignore The Pundits: How To Figure Out Who Won The Debate." With that in mind...
CBS News Poll of Uncommitted Voters Watching the Debate)
46% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Joe Biden was the winner. 21% thought Sarah Palin won, 33% thought it was a draw 98% after the debate saw [Biden] as knowledgeable (79% before the debate).
Those are huge numbers.
Update [2008-10-2 23:13:20 by Todd Beeton]:One of my favorite post-debate pundit moments was Paul Begala on CNN. He said that Sarah Palin did not make the case once why Barack Obama is a risky choice, while Joe Biden time and time again reiterated that John McCain would be "more of the same." In other words, "Sarah Palin was looking out for Sarah Palin tonight. She thinks it's over and is looking toward 2012." Awesome.
Update [2008-10-2 23:14:27 by Jonathan Singer]: CNN polling gives Biden the win by a 51 percent to 39 percent margin. That's two-for-two for the Democratic ticket in post-debate polls.
Update [2008-10-2 23:17:53 by Todd Beeton]:Also from CNN, on the question of whether Palin is qualified to serve as VP, she went from 42% Yes 54% No before the debate, to 46% Yes 53% No after. A +5% move isn't bad but the fact that this debate performance couldn't get her back to where a majority feels she's qualified has to be seen as a failure.