Roy Schwartzman, professor of communication studies at UNC Greensboro:
"There's this amazing pattern that the person that people think wins happens to be the candidate that they support. Most people approach debates with a heavy confirmation bias; that is, the way that these debates really tend to be processed is for people who are relatively decided, even moderately committed. It winds up being a case where they can reinforce the decision they believe they're going to make. ... The debates themselves are less about the issues than the issues that might activate people's value systems. What they're really arguing for is a certain set of values. ... For Biden, what he did is he got the discussion back on track for Democrats to the fundamental value of fairness, and the idea here is that by the beginning of the third question [Biden] brings up the 47% comment. ... And so his basic appeal was the story of populism. ... Ryan really was trying to activate the same sort of thing Mitt Romney has been doing. They're largely taking a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook. ... The change that Ryan articulated pretty well tonight and Mitt Romney has been articulating is what I call a back-to-the-future strategy -- change, but change to a restoration of a traditional kind of Reagan-like idea of American exceptionalism."
Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ:
"Going into it, I think everyone assumed Biden would not do a good showing, and that Ryan would, and I would tend to say that Biden did a better job than I would have expected, and Ryan was equal to or slightly less than what I expected. The one thing that I felt Biden did that Ryan did not was be forceful. You always heard Joe Biden's snide comments; you rarely heard Paul Ryan's comeback statements. ... If [the debate] did anything it possibly slowed the Republican momentum, very slightly slowed it because I don't think it advanced it. And if anything it gives you an idea of the tenor of the upcoming presidential election. ... Could anyone say that they were specific? The only specifics they offer are what the goals will be -- 'We are going to cut unemployment to 6%; How are we going to do that? By working hard.' ... Long on targets, short on specifics. But that's to be expected. What would happen if somebody actually were specific? Would it help them or would it hurt them? And I think the reason why they don't do that is because it probably would hurt them. ... It was definitely not a game changer in my opinion, and if it was not a draw, then maybe it was Biden 51%, Ryan 49%. If, instead, it was a loss for Ryan it was only because nobody expected anything out of Biden and everyone expected more out of Ryan. But Wall Street is all about reality vs. expectations, and I would say in the end it was a very minor momentum-slowing event for Republicans.