Judge: Tommy Tonner
Scores: Palin 78 | Biden 77
It is a tricky debate to judge when one party has a better (or at least wider) grasp of the issues at hand but has presentational difficulties whereas the less knowledgable party presents their more limited case in an effective manner.
Biden’s strength lay in his ability to quickly set out Obama’s plan on almost every question put, from Bailout, through Tax to Foreign policy. He was also able to get to the point of disagreement with the other side on most issues.
There was however little persuasion as to why his boss’s plans were right, nor really why the McCain/Palin plans were wrong. His over use of voting record stats and references to congressional procedures were not convincing.
Palin started well on a tricky brief with the bailout question and sounded convincing on domestic policy, with the exception of McCain’s health plan. It is, however, not a good idea to say ‘I may not answer the questions’ in a debate context, especially if you do.
Its clear Foreign policy is not Palin’s strong suit but her support for the McCain position on Iraq was convincing. Palins strong suit is energy policy and this was the one substantive area where she scored a clear victory over Biden. Biden scored a number of small victories over Palin generally in the foreign policy areas where he is more experienced and seems at ease.
Biden was stilted and ill at ease whereas Palin seemed happy sticking to her limited game plan of illustrating what complex issues mean by drawing on her own experiences. Even when there was the odd personal spat which this format discourages she came out on top, for example on tax vs. patriotism and on Biden’s desire to be on the McCain ticket.
If Biden had shown his teeth it may have been different but for me it is Palin by the width of an Alaskan snowflake.