Seven first impressions of Palin-Biden debate

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrapped up their only debate of the 2008 election half an hour ago. Some initial thoughts and observations:

  1. Sarah Palin did very, very well at the start of the debate. She played Sarah Palin’s game, which was smart. If you can’t be better, be different — sometimes it’s just as effective.
  2. In the front end of the debate, when Palin spoke generally about the plight of the midde class and a system stacked against them, CNN’s somewhat improved Approve-O-Meter pegged out with positive feedback.
  3. When Biden talked about his own middle-class background, he likewise garnered strong positive feedback.
  4. When Palin talked about deregulation, the Approve-O-Meter showed a neutral or mildly positive reaction from the men in CNN’s focus group of undecided voters. The line indicating women’s approval usually plunged.
  5. Biden displayed his superior knowledge of foreign policy (and the issues in general) to great effect in the second half of the debate, while it was often difficult to discern an actual answer from the Alaska governor.
  6. In the second half of the debate, Palin stumbled noticeably. Her response to the question about what branch of government properly comprises the office of the vice president was vague, rambling and incoherent. She sounded like a beauty pageant contestant stunned by the glare of the spotlights. Biden, on the other hand, showed that he knows exactly what the vice president does and where the office fits into the constitutional structure of U.S. government.’
  7. I only saw Sarah Palin’s hands once that I remember. In that fraction of a second, I couldn’t tell what she held in her right hand, but she was squeezing it like she was trying to break it. How revealing it would be if we could see the hands of the debaters as well as their faces. People often are quite guarded with their facial expressions, while their hands provide a truer window to their souls. If you doubt this, the next time you interview someone or hold a one-on-one meeting, place a paper clip on the table within reach of the other person. Nervous people may play with it unconsciously and almost uncontrollably. Confident people may never so much as glance at it. Savvy people may move it out of the way before it becomes a temptation. It’s a cheap trick, but effective.

Overall, looking at the debate by itself, although I think Palin did better than expected, Biden did better still.

I’ll post a more substantive analysis Friday. in the meantime, read a complete transcript of the debate here.

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4 Responses to Seven first impressions of Palin-Biden debate

  1. […] Okay. Who won?  You know what I am talking about. Palin or Biden?  Biden or Palin? […]

  2. Santiago says:

    The politicians –like you can see in the debate Biden-Palin- talk about the climate change. Biden has a pessimist vision about the human action in the earth. But each baby is a gift because is able to change the world. The economist Julian Simon had a central premise: people are the ultimate resource. “Human beings,” he wrote, “are not just more mouths to feed, but are productive and inventive minds that help find creative solutions to man’s problems, thus leaving us better off over the long run.Santiago Chiva (Granada, Spain)

  3. Sarah Palin vs. Joe Biden: Comedy! Drama! Horror!

    So to watch the debate at the State Theater with Michael Moore and 500 other people, 400 of them who will be voting Obama – Biden, was a lot like watching your College football team beat up on the opposition at your school’s Homecoming game. The crowd roared virtually every time Palin rambled, forgetting for the moment that no one without understanding of complex policy issues should become the leader of the free world – the most powerful decision maker on earth.

    See pics from the Great Debate Party

  4. Janice says:

    I only saw bits and pieces, so I appreciate this post, and look forward to your more in-depth analysis as well.

    My husband grew up on the East Coast and has lived in Charleston, New Orleans and Texas. His first impression was “uh oh, she is coming across as an every-woman, one of us”. No-nonsense, direct, yet a bit folksy, and will really appeal to a lot of women in the South.

    As to her confidence I said her beauty pageant training was paying off well.

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