The Vice Presidential debate is less than two weeks away, and it will be an unconventional one for sure. There has been only one time when a women debated a man in the Vice Presidential debate, and that was Geraldine Ferraro, against George H.W. Bush.
There is no doubt that both camps are studying the video to learn the do's and dont's of debate that involves a women. George H.W. Bush came off as condescending when debating Ferraro, and that is not because of what he said so much as how he delivered it.
Ferraro voiced displeasure in the debate, and accused Bush of patronizing her. This is because Bush's choice of words were what he would have said to a man, and not to a women. While the facts don't change just because you are debating a women, the perceptions of the audience definately do.
Joe Biden has a tendency to come off negative and personal, and it could really work against him in the debate. I don't think Sarah Palin would bother to accuse him of patronizing her, she would most likely just fire back. This works for her, by showing she can keep her cool and still make her point, she makes herself look like the more collected candidate.
It is for this reason Biden has a disadvantage from the start. He will be on the defensive, being very careful to not come off as sexist, and will have to walk on eggshells when talking to her. This is not ideal for Biden, but it is a lot better than the alternative, which is looking a shovenist.
Regardless, there will be plenty of fireworks, and Biden is a very good debater. Most likely, no one will emerge a clear victor in this debate. Biden would be well advised to hold his tongue in regards to personal attacks, and stick very close to the issues.
Palin will come out swinging, and does have the potential to really shake Biden up, but his years of experience will most likely serve to keep the debate very close. All he has to do is avoid a gaffe, and he should come out with no damage.
Palin may also be able to escape with no damage. If she can even hold her own against someone with so much experience doing debates, then that in itself should help the debate not appear one sided. The bottom line is both candidates should come out unscathed, making this a safe debate for both campaigns.