If you missed the debate or would like to see it again, the New York Times has the video with transcript here.
The debate turned out to be without breathtaking gaffes, which was probably the major surprise of the event. Lacking that spectacle, it seemed like people in the audience pretty much took from the debate what they were inclined to see.
Stripping away everything else and just looking at the transcript, I believe that Biden clearly prevailed on the merits. The polls indicate that most people thought Biden did a better job.
That, however, was not what this debate was about. The overwhelming issue was whether Palin could maintain the appearance of competence. Toward the end she seemed to falter but she hung on to get through it.
My guess is that Palin shored up the eroding base but probably did not do much to sway undecided voters. We’ll see. Monday the polls from today and the weekend will be out.
In this instance though the polls are not all that reliable. The LA Times today has an interesting article on the effect or racial attitudes on voters and speculates that Obama will need a double digit lead to prevail in the election because of the Bradley Effect according to which white voters shy away from candidates of color at the moment of voting.