I think Joe Biden just gave the greatest presidential campaign debate performance I have ever seen. He was absolutely commanding and absolutely convincing. But (and you'll have to read all the way down before I explain this) he gift-wrapped two big opportunities for the McCain campaign if the campaign is smart enough and tough enough to exploit them.
I thought Sarah Palin did about as well as she could. She wasn't bad. She wasn't great, by any means. But she was out of her league. Unfortunately, my opinion of her performance was HIGHER than that of my "test group." I watched with two women, both rather apolitical but both conservative, both of whom wanted her to do well, both in the mid-thirties to mid-forties age range. They thought she was absolutely godawful.
Young woman #1: "She's just not polished enough."
"ANSWER the question!"
and, at the end: "He smoked her. He smoked her. He smoked her."
Young woman #2: "She's just a calamity." and again at the end: "She was calamitous."