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Some women love her, arguing she’s the everywoman who has excelled. Others say she’s a poor imitation of Mrs. Clinton and express anger at Mr. McCain for selecting her.

But the folks she was addressing Thursday night were those in the middle, the average voters she talked about, and to, repeatedly. She mentioned “hockey moms” within the first 10 minutes of the debate and said she measures the country’s health by parents at their children’s sporting events.

“You know, I think a good barometer here, as we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time in America’s economy is go to a kids’ soccer game on Saturday and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, “How are you feeling about the economy?”

Mrs. Clinton, in a statement issued after the debate, said Mrs. Palin only offered “more of the same policies of the Bush administration” and praised Mr. Biden as someone who “understands both the economic stresses here at home and the strategic challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.”

Whatever her effect on voters at large, her effect on Mr. McCain’s own campaign is clear: Crowds have surged, and so has fundraising. The Republican National Committee Thursday night announced it collected $66 million in September, a one-month record.

The question is how she will play in those places where Mrs. Clinton exposed vulnerabilities in Mr. Obama.

Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic primaries in the key big states that will be decisive in November, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Ohio.

Mr. McCain’s campaign on Thursday announced he was pulling his campaign commercials and most staff out of Michigan to focus more on Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

And Pennsylvania is exactly where they hope Mrs. Palin can appeal to the Clinton voters who have been lukewarm at best to Mr. Obama.

“Our polling will show us taking a considerable portion of Democrats outside the Philadelphia media market. For us, Democrats in Pennsylvania are going to be a key focus for our campaign,” said McCain strategist Greg Strimple.

But national public polling suggests Mrs. Palin’s effect has worn off.

The Gallup Poll, which showed Mr. McCain winning married women by 15 percentage points in early September, just after Mrs. Palin’s convention speech, now shows him about tied with Mr. Obama.

• Explore different election-night scenarios with our ‘Road to 270’ interactive electoral college map

Meanwhile, Mr. McCain trails badly among unmarried women and men, and leads among married men.