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. whatajoke

    The real losers are the American people. "Debate"? What a performance!

    October 12, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  2. Andy

    I wouldn't say one particular v.p. candidate "won" the debate. They both did a very good job in my opinion. The debate was more in depth and Ryan explained a little bit about what their tax plan would look like, but Romney ultimately needs to do that, and in greater depth. Biden did a good job informing the public what their administration has done and what will likely happen if Romney becomes president. Overall I was impressed.

    October 12, 2012 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  3. Devin

    Joe Biden stated he thought the President clearly won his debate, until he remembered Romney isn't the President.

    October 12, 2012 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  4. Christina

    Joe Biden was GREAT
    He is truly a Man of the People
    Honest and good nature d – some thing that Republicans are not

    October 12, 2012 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  5. Name Pat

    Nothin' better than an articulate fightin' Irishman... Biden 2016 !!!

    October 12, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  6. Colin

    Biden won hands down!

    October 12, 2012 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  7. Show

    I thought Joe Biden won so I don't know what debate youwere watching.

    October 12, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  8. brian

    After watching tonight's debate I have come to a conclusion. Ryan, I could drink under the table. Biden, I'm not so sure.

    October 12, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  9. rubensct

    It was obvious. Biden was in control. Ryan was out of his league. How is this even a debate? Biden summed him up and wiped the floor with him. Every time Ryan started to recite his pre-planned speech, Biden took control. Seriously?

    October 12, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  10. RSWFTL

    You people all know Biden won...... stop trying to mislead us!!

    October 12, 2012 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  11. Ken22

    Ryan so clearly won this debate. Independent voters don't care for rude, arrogant performances like Biden displayed.

    October 12, 2012 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  12. jws

    Biden's arrogant, rude, and comical behavior was an embarrassment to his position and party. Obama must be worried...

    October 12, 2012 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  13. DrJames

    I cannot accept a VP who has no lips. Obama, you're in!

    October 12, 2012 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  14. JF

    joe biden won and made Ryan look like a little puppy

    October 12, 2012 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  15. stonesrule

    Ryan was the clear winner – Biden's constant interruptions , squirming and stumbling were distracting and annoying. According to AP, Biden was fibbing a lot more than Ryan too.

    October 12, 2012 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  16. Luckyone

    This guy Ryan, looks more like a back up dancer or something. Check out his pics on Time and this guy could be a heart beat from the most power man in the world. Give me a break...

    October 12, 2012 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  17. 111Dave111

    Vice President Joe Biden won!
    The box of secrets of the Romney / Ryan / Republican ticket is full.
    The reality is revealed in the '47% are irresponsible' tape.

    October 12, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  18. Tim

    Hard to see how being rude can be a winning debate tactic. As my wife said, this was a depressing debate. What we wanted to see was clarity and civility. Maybe Joe won arguments, but I couldn't tell. I was distracted by his behavior.

    October 12, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Biden won!!

    October 12, 2012 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  20. kevin

    I didn't watch. I won!

    October 12, 2012 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Who cares?

    October 12, 2012 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  22. 111Dave111

    Do you trust Ryan to help decide if you will get Social Security and Medicare when you retire from decades of work?

    October 12, 2012 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  23. Josh Dugan

    Yeah, this is ridiculous. Biden won. He definitely controlled the conversation, and chuckled a bit too much. But Romney used similar tactics last week and was awarded a win too. All's fair in love & war...

    October 12, 2012 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  24. Anonymous

    close debate in my opinion

    October 12, 2012 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  25. Lee

    I though Biden did a great job. He did not let Ryan run away with his half truths. Word of the day: Malarkey.

    October 12, 2012 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
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