I must say that I agree with many other pro-Obama (or is it probama?) bloggers in saying that I expect Palin to do relatively well tonight. As an avowed partisan, I certainly hope that she falters - either with an easily disprovable lie, some catastrophic blunder or the like. But I don't expect it to happen.
For one thing, the format is such that there simply isn't much time for either candidate to speak, on his/her own or with one another. That will allow Palin (and Biden) the ability to stick closely to pre-approved talking points. Palin does have a good ability to stick to the McCain mantra of earmarks, reform, earmarks, reform, blah blah blah somebody gauge my eyes out, please. It's only when asked a question or series of questions to which she does not know the answer (as in the Couric interviews) does Palin royally fuck up. Tonight, I expect her to be relatively well-prepared, as I'm sure she's been briefed on what to expect from Gwen Ifill and has studied the bare minimum facts so that it appears she knows what she's talking about.
Palin, furthermore, proved to be a good debater while she was running for governor of Alaska, and has the added bonus that, because she is a woman, Biden can't really go after her too hard or he risks coming across as a bully. Biden has to be careful, and he might compensate for that by being overly careful.
Also, with the controversy over Ifill's book coming out on January 20 (which is actually about Obama AND other black politicians) and some on the right crying that she is biased, she might also be overly easy on Palin.
So Palin's actually got it pretty easy tonight, I think, because the bar is soooooo low and because I predict Biden and Ifill might be kinda soft on her.
Plus, I'm a Democratic Phillies fan, so optimism isn't really in my blood.