I know that there are several things working in Paul Ryan's favor tonight, he's young, very bright, very articulate and really seems to be able to show the audiences that he speaks to that he cares. Biden, on the other hand, is just a gaffe machine who historically has been wrong about every foreign policy issue that we've had. He also will be required to defend an administration that has done more harm than good on the economy. However, there are several reasons why I think Paul Ryan could lose tonight:
1. We've seen Paul Ryan debate in the past, but they have been in more free form settings, like the healthcare summit, not in formal debates where there are strict time limits. His wonderboy abilities to connect just might not translate to this venue. Remember, Romney wasn't born a good debater as anyone who has seen his 2008 debates will testify. What helped him be able to mop the floor with Obama this year was the fact that he had 23 or so debates facing the debate master, Newt Gingrich, and even won some of them. His skills were pretty much as honed as they could have been. Ryan doesn't have this experience at all, unlike Biden who has run for President twice and this is his second run for VP.
2. Paul Ryan is great talking about Paul Ryan but how will be do having to defend Mitt Romney and not putting his own non-campaign-endorsed feelings into the mix. I've seen plenty a good candidate just get confused by all the consultant speak in their head making them seem nervous, a bit off-kilter and just not sure of themselves. If we start seeing Ryan on stage doing a "oh I can't say that, the Boston folks don't want me to say that" he could very well be toast, looking completely inexperienced for the job. Remember just as many of the people who saw the debate last week saw Romney for the first time, this will be the first time they will be seeing Ryan and first impressions count for a lot. His chances for 2016 (if Romney loses) and 2020 (if he wins) are also at stake tonight.
3. Biden CAN be a good speaker when he wants to be. His DNC speech was much better than Obama's and from what I can tell he usually doesn't have too many gaffes in debates (though some would disagree) or at least ones he doesn't get into too much trouble because of.
4. The moderator had Barack Obama as her wedding guest back in 1991 and later tapped her now ex-husband to be head of the FCC. You would think she would get recused for this but I guess not. She might not be as objective as you would like.
Anyway, we'll see what happens tonight. I don't think Ryan has to outright win to do a good job. He just needs to come across as knowledgeable and caring and do nothing to scare away the women who went towards Romney after last week's debate (many of the polls seem to be swinging because Romney isn't losing women by that much anymore.