There's the debate, watched in real time, and the effect it has on people's minds. CNN did a poll about that:
Forty-eight percent of voters who watched the vice presidential debate think that Rep. Paul Ryan won the showdown, according to a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll conducted right after Thursday night's faceoff. Forty-four percent say that Vice President Joe Biden was victorious....Post-debate, we get people reacting to the reactions. (If everyone's saying X won, that makes some people feel like being for X, the winner.) And we get the quotes from the transcript, analyzed. (See my previous post.) And, perhaps most important, we get the video clips, with each side using what's usable. As Peggy Noonan writes in her column about the debate:
By a 50%-41% margin, debate watchers say that Ryan rather than Biden better expressed himself.
Seven in ten said Biden was seen as spending more time attacking his opponent, and that may be a contributing factor in Ryan's 53%-43% advantage on being more likable. Ryan also had a slight advantage on being more in touch with the problems of average Americans.
Because the debate was so rich in charge and countercharge, and because it covered so much ground, both parties will be able to mine the videotape for their purposes. On the attack in Benghazi, the question that opened the debate, Mr. Biden was on the defensive and full of spin. He pivoted quickly to talking points, a move that was at once too smooth and too clumsy. He was weak on requests for added security before the consulate was overrun and the ambassador killed. "We will get to the bottom of this." Oh. Good.I look forward to more mining of the videotape. But this first one, from the RNC, is powerful. It's obvious — didn't we all think of doing this? — but they did it quickly, gave us just what we said out loud in our living rooms somebody should do, and they did it well.