My scorecard for debate No. 2 is:
Ryan C
Biden B
Raddatz A

In substance, Congressman Ryan did the traditional job of being a modest surrogate for his master. He was polite and competent, if wonky, about economic data, and weak and shallow on foreign policy. On style, he looked callow and his funny hair peak and surly look made him appear young and out of his weight class, as if his feet wouldn’t reach the floor in the Oval Office, as one commentator remarked.

Vice President Biden picked up the fight Obama had slept through in debate 1, overdid the goofy grin and interactions, seemed a bit waxy. But he was ebullient (to Obama’s reticence) and he surely put the brake on any perceptions of slide in the Democrats’ campaign.

Moderator Raddatz did what none before her I’ve seen do, which was to control the debate (mostly) and press for answers — and she asked smart questions like "Are you proud of how this campaign is handled?" and “How do you reconcile your religion and the politics of abortion?”

The debate won’t be — couldn’t be — a game-changer. But Vice President Biden surely ran a good lap, after the president’s desultory first one. He passes the baton, having evened the debate race, to the president, who picks up laps 3 and 4 in the next weeks. How will the contrite president and the invigorated challenger do? We’ll all stay tuned.

Ronald Goldfarb is an attorney, author and literary agent based in Washington, D.C., and Miami.