In two different Colorado focus groups of married and unmarried women conducted directly after Thursday's vice presidential debate, respondents broadly agreed that Sarah Palin came off better than Joe Biden.
The married and unmarried focus groups of 10 women each were organized by the Womens Voices, Women Vote organization, and conducted by the firm of Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research.
But whether or not the women identified said they were independent, undecided or more likely to support one candidate or the other -- virtually all of them said they came away from the debate with a better impression of Palin than each respondent had going in. The same was true even for respondents who thought Biden won the debate on points.
If these 20 women were any indication of the electorate at large, the McCain camp played the expectations game perfectly. One woman reported "gritting her teeth" at first, expecting Palin to fail in a big way, though she soon became comforted by Palin's "down home" poise.
"Palin was more genuine. She's a mom," one said. "She's more herself, just the way she talks -- it's down to earth," said another. Most of the women also said her "say it ain't so Joe" line was "hysterical," and that the "extra credit" line about her brother's class was endearing as well.
Biden, by contrast, was tagged with being "more arrogant," "Mr. Slick" and too lawyerly in his diction -- someone who the women found it difficult to relate to, outside of his tearing up at the mention of losing his first wife. One woman suggested he "get a refund" for his hair plugs.
"He seemed like a good old boy," one remarked.
"He changed his stances when Obama asked him to be VP. There's gotta be some truth to that, she [Palin] wouldn't just make that up," said another.
On the war, Biden seemed to do well with the women in the focus groups. Many wondered what Palin meant by "victory" in Iraq. But as an issue, Iraq ranked behind the economy as a concern for those who were vocal in the focus groups.