And the campaigns get right back into the thick of it on Friday, looking for ways large and small to shift more voters their direction in the small number of states whose electoral votes are still up for grabs: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Look for Romney in Virginia and then linking up with Ryan in Ohio. Biden and wife Jill will woo young voters at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Obama will spend a rare day in Washington, preparing for the next two debates and taking campaign contest winners out to eat.
With so little time left in the countdown to Nov. 6, "every day, every hour counts," said Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor who served as Obama's first White House chief of staff. "Everything counts."
The president has set aside a serious chunk of time for preparation after being faulted for underestimating the importance of his first debate with Romney. He'll be hunkered down in Williamsburg, Va., from Saturday until Tuesday rehearsing, with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, acting as a proxy for Romney.
Romney's return to Ohio this weekend signals the importance of a state seen by both sides as the decisive to the whole election. Obama holds the edge there.
Obama had to hope that Biden's solid showing on Thursday was enough to shift a campaign dynamic that has had the momentum moving Romney's way since the first debate. Romney, for his part, had to hope that Ryan's performance would keep up the good karma for the GOP.
The running mates clearly sensed that the stakes were higher than usual for their faceoff, and both played hardball throughout, frequently interrupting one another and challenging one another's assertions.
On television's split screens, Biden's body language — a montage of pained smiles, winces, head shakes and eye rolls — often screamed incredulity when Ryan was speaking.