The Debate happened much as I expected: Biden showed more experience, as well as his debating practice from two failed Presidential bids. Palin exceeded my expectations a bit, appearing to hold her own against the six-term U.S. Senator.
My thoughts on this debate are actually somewhat similar to the first Presidential debate: I thought that McCain won the first debate, but did not have a crushing victory that could have been possible against Obama who has less foreign policy experience. I thought Biden won the debate, but he also did not score a big victory, and Palin did much better than I expected. Also, I thought last night didn't contain many soundbites, in my opinion, there were no major gaffes by either candidates, nor any memorable one-liners.
Once again, both candidates stuck to their main themes for many of the questions, as they both seemed to want to talk about McCain, Biden trying to tie him to President Bush, and Palin highlighting his credentials as a maverick and a reformer. Palin also talked a lot about her experience in Alaska, particularly on dealing with energy and taking on corruption, which was also one of her major themes when talking about McCain. Biden showed an impressive grasp of the facts, and was pretty successful attacking McCain's record and proposals, while mostly avoiding saying anything about Palin and staying away from personal attacks. I also thought Biden was more skilled at turning questions asked by the moderator to what he wanted to say.
I thought that Palin actually seemed pretty comfortable with foreign policy, which is probably her weakest subject. I would like to point out that not only did she avoid referencing her state's proximity to Russia, but also did a great job pronouncing the name "Ahmadinejad".
One interesting way to look at the debate is to see which important words the candidates used the most. Here are a few of the top words for each candidate, and the number of times said:
Barack Obama (34)
John McCain (34)
While I mentioned that there didn't seem to be any major gaffes, Senator Biden did perhaps make a mistake when he said that we should "go to Katie's restaurant". The restaurant he was referencing apparently has not existed for over ten years. Also despite, as I said before, his impressive grasp of the facts, it seems he messed his facts up a little when referencing the cost of the war in Afghanistan compared with Iraq, saying that we spend as much in Iraq in a month as we have in Afghanistan. We currently pay $10 billion a month in Iraq, and have spent $172 billion in Afghanistan.
A debate poll of previously undecided voters by CNN showed 51% thought Biden won, while 36% thought Palin was the winner. The poll also showed however, that Palin exceeded their expectations, and that a majority of voters thought better of her afterwards, while a smaller amount said the same about Biden.