NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Joe Biden and Paul Ryan instantly leaped into assaults on each others' platforms at Thursday night's vice presidential debate, but determining the victor may not have been as clear cut as the first presidential debate. TheStreet spoke to experts from various fields to gauge who they thought won the debate. TheStreet also looked at what pundits and journalists said in other media outlets. Here's what they all had to say in their own words. Michael Goldman, Democratic operative in Massachusetts: "You look at debates and you try to figure out what was the goal when they came in? The goal, I think, of Ryan was to not try and seem extreme. I think the goal of the vice president was to try and say
to Ryan be specific. ... Biden dramatized over and over again the lack of specifics in a number of key areas -- particularly the tax plan. Once again Ryan obviously couldn't define it. ... I think the Democrats are going to be very happy tonight in the sense that they had somebody who went out there and was aggressive in terms of sending the president's agenda in a way that they didn't think the president did. ... I thought sometimes Ryan looked like a kid against him, but that's not his fault, because he is much younger. " Patrick McSweeney, former Virginia Republican Party chairman: "I thought it started off poorly for Biden with Libya, there's nothing he could do to salvage that. .... He did very well on Afghanistan I thought. ... I think his good points were undermined by his behavior. I don't think Joe can help himself. His tactic on taxes and the economy I thought might have worked with people who are inclined to believe the Obama-Biden way in the first place. I think he probably roused his base, but I was unsatisfied with both answers, answers from both on the economy and taxes. Ryan had an opening, but he didn't take advantage of it until his closing. ... Their discussion about military cuts left me terribly confused, and I think I know the facts but I think the two of them left me entirely befuddled. ... Ryan's best point he saved for the last. ... He finally talked about things that I think he was brought on the ticket to dramatize, which is bold alternatives to the Obama policies and directions."
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.
The New York Times editorial: "In contrast to the dismal meeting last week between President Obama and Mitt Romney, this debate gave voters a chance to evaluate the positions of the two tickets, in part because Representative Paul Ryan's nonanswers were accurate reflections of his campaign. ... Both candidates, however, demonstrated real engagement on issues that matter. It was a real change for voters starved for substance." The Wall Street Journal review and outlook: "But this 90 minutes wasn't about an exchange of ideas or a debate over policies. It was a Democratic show of contempt for the opposition, an attempt to claim by repetitive assertion that Messrs. Ryan and Romney are radicals who want to destroy 'the middle class.' Mr. Ryan's cool under assault was a visual rebuttal of that claim, and we certainly know who looked more presidential." Politico's Maggie Haberman: "It was fun for politics-lovers, but it's unclear how appealing the style of the Biden performance was to average voters who were watching. And in those exchanges, Ryan frequently did well by simply keeping calm. And Biden's open disdain for Ryan was a far cry from the measured, older candidate schooling the newbie performance voters saw from Dick Cheney in 2004." Bloomberg News editorial: "As it turns out, thankfully, something more than a bucket of warm spit. Last night's sit-down between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan was useful in both substance and style. It may not have changed many minds, but it clarified a lot of differences." -- Written by Joe Deaux in New York. >Contact by Email. Follow @JoeDeaux