Palin did a good job at embodying the role she fills for McCain - she used a lot of personal anecdoes to connect to the audience, made extensive use of talking points, and said very little of substance. A lot of suburbanites will (continue to) see her as "one of them", and her not seeming particularly intelligent or well-informed won't be much of a barrier. I suspect her "we're the best people in the world" bits were positive for the crowd she's aimed to please (rather than being "cringe/scowl moments" like they were for me).
Biden was much more restrained and "in the know", and popped most of her debate points handily. If I recall correctly, he used two brief personal anecdotes of his own, and focused most of his time on issues of fact. For people who know how to listen carefully, he showed himself to be much more astute, well-informed, and savvy. If he wanted to compete a bit with Palin he could've spoken further on his first family's tragedy, but Biden and Palin are aimed at different parts of the electorate - at most he could slightly numb her edge in appeal to voters he'll have a tough time reaching.
The debate's format didn't allow much more than a statement on each topic - with more back-and-forth more substance might've been reached (which could've been very bad for Palin).
So, nothing was a surprise.
In a way, there's a mismatch with who debated whom, as both McCain and Biden are the experienced statesmen, with Obama and Palin being "junior partners" - would Biden be a better president than Obama? That's hard to say, Obama being a bit of a wildcard, although Obama has at least some substance. It would've been quite interesting to see McCain debate Biden.. I'd rather someone of substance in office than someone without - political alignment and suitability are largely independent goods I think we should want. An American version of Margaret Thatcher (as unfortunate as her direction was) would be far more suitable than Palin, I think.
On some level I hope people are remembering to judge this matter fairly on two fronts - direction they would take the country and how capable they are of managing affairs of state - identities not recognisable in terms of political philosophy and prudence seem unwise to use to decide these matters. Will McCain (who clearly is intelligent and capable, even though his proposed national direction is ugly to people like me) regret gambling with identity politics in choosing Palin? Should he?
The coldening weather reached the point where my hands and feet are cold all the time now and I spend an extra minute whenever I'm in a bathroom warming my hands up (temporary bliss!). I'm not looking forward to that coldness creeping inward (as I know it will) and I'm sure seasonal depression will not stack well on my already fragile mental state.
Suitably inclined people might want to dig through Palin's history and adapt the above-noted "When I Was a Lad" G/S song for her.