Tonight, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden square off at 9 pm ET for the only Vice Presidential debate for this election. Palin needs to convince American voters that she is up to the task of the second-highest position in the executive branch, while Biden has to avoid making any major gaffes that will force the national media to report them.

Can she do it? The Examiner’s Mark Tapscott predicts that Palin will prevail:

Call me a cockeyed optimist or a fool or whatever, but I predict Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be the clear winner over Sen. Joe Biden in tonight’s debate between the vice-presidential nominees. Not because I think she’s a master debater – though she clearly has been underestimated in this department before – but because she possesses the one qualification nobody else on either ticket has – She’s not part of the Washington crowd.

I’m somewhat less sanguine than Mark, but willing to be proven wrong. I think both candidates will do well tonight. Biden’s already been through more than a dozen of these in this cycle alone, and he hasn’t made a serious mistake in any of them. His gaffes come in less-guarded moments. Don’t expect anything but a competent and sharp performance from Biden.

Palin will do very well indeed, and again the low expectations from recent media coverage will make it look even better. I don’t expect her to top Biden, but she really doesn’t need to do that anyway. If she comes across as confident, assertive, honest, and engaged, she will do fine — and in this debate the tie would be seen as a huge win for Palin.

I’ll be at Trocadero’s tonight, at the party for AM 1280 The Patriot, and won’t be live-blogging.  We will have a panel discussion before and after the debate, and I may try to broadcast through Ustream for the event.  Let’s see how that works, but don’t miss the live chat room!  Jazz Shaw of The Moderate Voice moderates the chat, and he does a great job riding herd on the conversation.  Be sure to register at Ustream to participate in our raucous live-chat sessions. (And if the log-in prompt doesn’t come up in the chat box below, use this link instead.)

See you at the debate!