That matters because, after weeks of gaffes and goof-ups, Romney finally got Republican blood pumping with his debate performance. There is a good chance that the party that is most motivated to turn out and vote will win the election. Sure, all the speculation in recent days has been about the tiny number of undecided voters in swing states who could push the election one way or another, but the fact is that enthused partisans on both sides could play an even more crucial role by driving the ground game of voter turnout.
Biden's rude behavior certainly turned off some voters who prefer their politics to be more cordial. CNN wired up a group of undecided voters to dial in their feelings throughout the debate, and they showed little enthusiasm for Biden's aggressive style. But, when interviewed after the event, these voters split right down the middle when asked whom they would vote for if they had to vote today. Biden's contentiousness did far less harm than Obama's politeness.
Ryan put in a good performance that pleased
The best performer on the debate stage was not either of the candidates, it was the moderator, Martha Raddatz. Unlike poor old Jim Lehrer who lost control of the presidential debate, Raddatz allowed a lively exchange but stayed in charge by posing intelligent, detailed questions and sharp follow-ups. It shows that it may be better to let a seasoned field reporter run these affairs rather than someone who has spent too many years sitting in an anchorman's cushy chair.