(CNN)–Republican conservatives should be happy tonight: the Sarah Palin who showed up for the debate was the same spirited, authentic woman when she was announced, not the one who sat down with Katie Couric.
While she made a few small mistakes and often avoided direct answers, she deserves credit for performing as well as she did in a moment of huge pressure.
Her problem was that the Joe Biden who showed up delivered the best debate performance of his life. He was extremely well informed, especially on foreign policy, and he argued his case with force and occasional eloquence. Like Palin, he didn't make any big mistakes either - and importantly, he was never condescending toward her.
Overall, it seems to me that when the debate was over, Palin could hold her head high and will meet with large, boisterous crowds on the campaign trail again. She did herself and John McCain well among Republican partisans. But Biden was the superior debater and , I would imagine, will help to solidify the Democrats' current lead. Over the next few weeks, McCain will have to take it away from Obama himself if he is to win.
If I had to give a score, it would be Palin A minus; Biden A plus.
Will very much look forward to hearing how voters respond - they are the ones rightly in charge.