CBS NEWS/KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS POLL of Uncommitted Voters who watched 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).
Who did the best job in the debate?
Biden 51 Palin 36
Did Biden do better or worse than you expected?
Better 64 Worse 14 Same 20
Did Palin do better or worse than you expected?
Better 84 Worse 7 Same 8
Is Palin qualified to serve as president? (Question not asked about Biden.)
Yes Before debate: 42 After debate: 46
No Before debate: 54 After debate: 53
Evidently, most undecided voters agreed with the NY Times assessment of the debate:
Ms. Palin mainly relied on enthusiasm and humor, talking about hockey moms, soccer moms and Joe Sixpack almost as often as she used the word “maverick” to describe Mr. McCain or herself.
But she offered virtually no detail — beyond the Republican mantra of tax cuts — for how she and Mr. McCain would address the financial crisis or help Americans avoid foreclosure or what programs they would cut because of the country’s disastrous fiscal problems.
Ms. Palin’s primary tactic was simply to repeat the same thing over and over: John McCain is a maverick. So is she. To stay on that course, she had to indulge in some wildly circular logic: America does not want another Washington insider. They want Mr. McCain (who has been in Congress for nearly 26 years). Ms. Palin condemned Wall Street greed and said she and Mr. McCain would “demand” strict oversight. In virtually the next breath, she said government should “get out of the way” of American business.
There were occasional, disturbing flashes of the old, pre-campaign Sarah Palin. Asked about the causes of global warming, Ms. Palin suggested that man had some role — but she wasn’t saying how much.
In the end, the debate did not change the essential truth of Ms. Palin’s candidacy: Mr. McCain made a wildly irresponsible choice that shattered the image he created for himself as the honest, seasoned, experienced man of principle and judgment. It was either an act of incredible cynicism or appallingly bad judgment.