October 11th, 2012
11:25 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Debate watchers split on who won VP debate

Danville, Kentucky (CNN) - Call it a draw.

Forty-eight percent of voters who watched the vice presidential debate think that Rep. Paul Ryan won the showdown, according to a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll conducted right after Thursday night's faceoff. Forty-four percent say that Vice President Joe Biden was victorious. The Republican running mate's four point advantage among a debate audience that was more Republican than the country as a whole is within the survey's sampling error.

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Half of all debate watchers questioned in the poll said the showdown didn't make them more likely to vote for either of the candidates' bosses, 28% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and 21% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect President Barack Obama.

According to the survey, 55% said that the vice president did better than expected, with 51% saying that the congressman from Wisconsin performed better than expected.

By a 50%-41% margin, debate watchers say that Ryan rather than Biden better expressed himself.

MORE: Romney calls Ryan with congratulations after debate

Seven in ten said Biden was seen as spending more time attacking his opponent, and that may be a contributing factor in Ryan's 53%-43% advantage on being more likable. Ryan also had a slight advantage on being more in touch with the problems of average Americans.

One of the top jobs for the candidates in a vice presidential debate is to convince Americans that they would be able to step into the top job if something happened to the president. The poll indicates that both men were seen as qualified to be president if necessary, by roughly equal numbers.

"This poll does not and cannot reflect the views of all Americans. It only represents the views of people who watched the debate and by definition cannot be an indication of how the entire American public will react to Wednesday's debate in the coming days," cautions CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

One-third of the respondents who participated in tonight's survey identified themselves as Republicans, with 31% identifying themselves as Democrats, and 34% identifying themselves as independents.

"That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is more Republican than an average of recent CNN polls of all Americans," adds Holland.

MORE: Obama: 'could not be prouder' of Biden debate

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, with 381 registered voters nationwide who watched the debate questioned by telephone. All interviews were conducted after the end of the debate. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

A CBS News poll of uncommitted voters who watched the debate gave Biden the edge over Ryan by a 50%-31% margin. Uncommitted voters made up roughly ten percent or less of the debate audience.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

soundoff (4,842 Responses)
  1. kmt

    Guess what "folks"... Biden was great. He could have smiled alot less, but that wouldn't be Joe. He got point across.

    October 12, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  2. GoinBroke

    Judging from the poll results it seems that the medium was the message and thus most what Biden said was lost in a sea of irreverant smiles and disruptive vocalisations. That is unfortunate because on content, I thought he was the clear winner. Ryan was full of criticism but offered no viable alternatives. BTW, regarding the post debate panel, I wont name names but a certain Republican strategist should go a bit lighter on the botox. Aging gracefully is a virtue!

    October 12, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  3. lancefurd

    Biden's "so now you're Kennedy" was a clear attempt by Biden to stop Ryan from proving him wrong. Biden knew he was wrong when he said no one has ever cut taxes to increase revenue, when it's fact that Coolidge, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan did exactly that. They cut top rate taxes and saw revenues raise as a result. Ryan's only mistake was to open with Kennedy and give Biden room to make a classless jibe accusing Ryan of trying to compare himself to Kennedy. He should have saved the Kennedy example for last. Also, Kennedy is not God and is not out of bounds for comparison.

    Three times Biden used the logical fallacy known as "the appeal to popularity" when he talked about our allies agreeing with his policies. The agreement doesn't make it correct.

    All I saw from Biden was deflection. How can anyone call that a win? How is that awesome? He argued like a child.

    I saw some faltering and pauses from Ryan, which showed he was less able to carry a debate by himself but, mostly, he used math instead of logical fallacies.

    October 12, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  4. eojsmada

    Once Obama loses the next debate, it is all over for the Obama Administration. The truth of CNN's polling is that sample includes a larger number of independent voters, and thus more indicative of how they felt about the debate. And Ryan won by 10+% among independents.

    The proof is in the pudding, and I expect another 1-2 point swing for Romney, by Monday.

    October 12, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  5. Luckyone

    Mini Mitt, give me a break. This Ryan, is a joke...

    October 12, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  6. JMK49

    48% to 44% Ryan?? Was there two debates being shown? I personally felt that Mr. Ryan was out of his league debating vice president Biden.

    October 12, 2012 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  7. AJ

    smh at cnn. You're starting to make me not watch your network anymore. What debate were you watching to get these type of numbers? Biden was the true winner in this debate. Ryan was like a robot with his responses.

    October 12, 2012 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  8. Esh

    Can we stop with the whole "who won" crap. The debates are supposed to let us gain more information on the candidates and where they stand on the issues. It's not a contest! Makes me mad the media AGAIN polarizes the people!

    October 12, 2012 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  9. Susan

    The moderator seemed very partial to the Democratic side. She kept asking Ryan what they would do to fix the problem and never once asked Biden what Obama/Biden would do differenty to fix what wasn't working. She also cut Ryan off alot more than Biden and didn't stop him from rudely interrupting. It was distracting trying to hear Ryan's answers over Biden's interruptions. I did feel that both were knowledgeable.

    October 12, 2012 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  10. Tony

    Are you kidding me?!?! No one thought to bring in a body language expert to say how nervous Ryan was?! He grabbed for his water about 8 times throughout the night! That means his mouth was getting dry because he was NERVOUS!! Ryan ended up looking like a kid wearing his dad's suit! Joe hands down beat down Ryan!

    October 12, 2012 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  11. Scott

    I'm a little surprised by this poll, but I thought Ryan did well. Biden chuckled and interrupted too much. That's no criterion on which to judge a debate, but it's still true. But Biden at least looked like he believed in what he was fighting for, unlike Obama. Biden had fewer facts and data, but his were more accurate. Biden won, but not by much, and Ryan did fine and made no mistakes.

    October 12, 2012 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  12. Jan

    Joe biden has my vote 100%

    October 12, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  13. Lindsey Brutus

    Ryan won by not saying "Uh" 2 thousand times like Biden.

    October 12, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  14. Mark

    Joe Biden won 70 %

    October 12, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  15. Pammerpower

    CNN has turned Presidential Debates and one of our most critical elections into REALITY TV! Where can I text my vote in November? You've lost an avid fan. As a female veteran, I'm going hey, the Democrats haven't fought for me, yet the Republicans will ride over the hill and wipe out what's left. So what is a debate going to tell me anyway? Vote Obama / Biden and hope Americans get their game on again someday.

    October 12, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  16. Kelly

    Biden won hands down.

    October 12, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  17. reformedii

    I see by most of the comments that none of you really understands what has happened.

    I will not vote for R/R.

    BUT I will not vote for BO [BO STINKS!] either!

    B/O was not chosen to succeed as POTUS. He was chosen to fail so we would have 20 years of the R's as we did after Carter.

    It does not matter which candidate the people want! THEY are ALL chosen for us.

    Look back! The most improbable candidates are getting the nominations!

    Romney, who may be a decent man, has the personality of a half eaten donut! Obama, who personally may be a decent guy, is one of [!] the least experienced/qualified men to EVER run!

    They are chosen because they fit the bill of the folk who actually run the country.

    Yeah I know, another conspiracy theory, but THINK!

    October 12, 2012 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  18. Clem Arbruster Bodog Castlenut, Jr.

    A left, a right, a left, a right. The punishment the challenger is takin' is incredible! He's dazed! He's staggering! Another left, another right! The challenger is down! That's the 10 count! Biden retains his belt!

    October 12, 2012 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  19. Lindy

    Biden clearly and without a doubt won the Vice Presidential debate! Just tell the truth! I'm a democrat and I admit that Romney won the first debate, but Biden more than did his job and WON! Ryan was not ready for Biden, and I never really knew anything about either, but I now know Biden!!! Heck! I love Obama, but truth be told, Biden could definitely and no doubt run for president and handle it! Biden did just that! He came to the debate with a CAPITAL H on his chest, and did just that, "HANDLED IT!" That old man was something else! He represented! No doubt! He answered the questions, and fought for what he believed in and did it with emotions and everything he had, and it showed! He showed up, and he let his LIGHT SHINE, as my grandmother would say. Just Be HONEST! Straight forward, and honest. You go Biden!! Shooooot, I know who you are now! Biden doesn't play!

    October 12, 2012 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  20. Pres102

    I watched the whole debate and I think Joe Biden should have won, he clearly knew what he was saying and was top of the game.

    October 12, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  21. Raquel

    I was very disappointed in Vice president Joe Bidden's performance during the debate because he acted like a bully. Instead of posing his points in a respectful manner he came of as arrogant and disrespectful. Hopefully, the Vice president can pull his act together.

    October 12, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  22. Don

    The grouchy old man lost the debate.

    October 12, 2012 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  23. Glenn

    Apparently, style is more important than content... Nevertheless, I thoight Biden did a good job. He showed how big a liar Paul Ryan is.

    October 12, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  24. JA

    Its just the vp debates its not going to change anyone's mind gee z. must be everyone's first VP debate!get over it!

    October 12, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  25. tstorm92

    CBS reports Biden 50% and Ryan only 31%. CNN is sounding more like Fox News these days.

    October 12, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
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