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. robert huss

    No doubt about it, it was Biden but Ryan looked good too. The best VP debate I've ever watch and I've been around since "Give them hell Harry".

    October 12, 2012 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Joe Biden AKA The Joker was an embarrassment. What a clown. He Lied right our of the gate about security at our embassy. Senile old man one heartbeat from the Presidency. Scary!

    October 12, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  3. Mary

    Biden by a mile. Who did you poll the GOP?

    October 12, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  4. Peter

    I thought Biden won 45 minutes into the debate but the more it went on Biden began to look like a rude bully, trying to intimidate the much younger (and young looking for his age) Ryan. Ryan did a nice job of "holdin serve" to the passionate but bully like attacks from Biden. so after the whole 90 minutes, especially the closing remarks, Ryan actually did what he needed to do.

    October 12, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  5. luckjoe

    It is scary to think that as VP Biden is a heartbeat away from President.

    October 12, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  6. Gary

    Wow, a R+2% poll. How did they let this happen. Literally every poll this election season has been D+3%-D+19% I still think the Pubs were under represented because we are MUCH more motivated than those who want to protect their govt. largess.

    October 12, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  7. Who told the truth??

    I am not interested who won the debate. I am more interested in actually told the truth. What I am more concern about is that I still do not have a clear and concise understanding about what ROMNEY AND RYAN plan is for the economy. All I keep getting is that they plan to appeal everything!!! However Biden told the truth about always saying what you mean.

    October 12, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  8. PatC21

    i agree, no clear winner, and disconduct by biden

    October 12, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  9. Ghost

    Somehow "Biden" managed to look both histrionic and polished at the same time. And yet, my lasting memory is of his grinning death's head...ugh.

    October 12, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  10. Jeff Edgmon

    I thought Biden won the debate. He made Ryan admit that he has no firm timetable for getting out of Afghanistan, all the while starting a new war in Iran, and passing more tax cuts for the wealthiest of American's. Not to mention at the end, saying the debt and deficit were a problem, which anyone with even an ounce of brain power knows, if/when the inevitability happens, and they do all of that, the debt and deficit will not be going south, especially since he also wants to increase the defense budget. This fiercely independent voter doesn't have to get out a calculator to realize that simply doesn't add up.

    October 12, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  11. gcom

    Biden won, hands down. Where do you get your facts CNN, nobody asked us!

    October 12, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  12. Joe Bo Cop

    Biden was pointed. Ryan was a little too technical. The moderator was better than Legree, but came across biased left. Biden edged out Ryan. Should have clobbered him, but he acted like a child and hurt himself. Net result: push.

    October 12, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  13. cali

    This was a pretty split debate. I'm still an undecided voter. My conservative friends say Ryan won. My Democratic friends say Biden won. I really believe Ryan's more professional demeanor may have gave him an ever so slight edge.

    October 12, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  14. Florence

    I agree they must of watch a different debate. Biden clearly won with flying colors. That poll can not be accurate. Biden did FANTASTIC!

    October 12, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  15. falling15

    They were both awful. But Biden came out for the worse...often fumbling over his words, speaking too quickly, grinning. smirking and cackling to himself. These are all defense mechanisms, thus making the VP look weak on on his heals.

    October 12, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  16. Daylily

    Ryan was the clear winner. He was cool, calm and collected the entire time regardless of the rude behavior Biden has become so famous for. Ryan stayed on message. A sad evening for the democrats.

    October 12, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  17. Wes

    I don't know what debate you saw , but Biden clearly won tonight. Again Ryan had lots of rhetoric but no substance. He gave no specifics about how they would reduce taxes and still keep all the programs. And if you believe that Romney/ Ryan would not repeal Roe V Wade I have some land in Florida I would like to sell you ( cash only , small Bills) its only under water 8 months out of the year!

    October 12, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  18. MikeB

    This is an election. The swaying of uncommitted voters are really all that count for who won the debate. So, by that measure, Biden won in a landslide by around 20%.

    Also, I noticed that this story doesn't say what the national makeup of the electorate is in terms of parties.

    October 12, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  19. Joel

    If "courteous" is how we judge the winner, Obama won the first debate hands down.

    October 12, 2012 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  20. Billy S

    Joe Biden is a warrior!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! His years of exeprience man. He blow him out of the water. The VP is the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I will fight for him and the president any day. Lets vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Barrack OB and Joe B

    October 12, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  21. MRHD

    Biden could have toned it down with the interrupting, but he made the points he needed to make. Ryan held is own though. I'd say it was pretty close, and probably won't alter the race at all because of that.

    October 12, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  22. Hutch

    Biden bibble-babbled, laughed, smirked and bi-polared his way through the debate...Ryan spoke in complete sentences and made concise points. To the 44%--really?

    October 12, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  23. tct

    Biden won on substance and veracity but lost on style and impression.

    October 12, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  24. Psanford

    Fact checkers are giving this to Ryan.. Biden blew it with his demeanor...

    October 12, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  25. clayusmcret

    For most of the debate, Radditz hammered Ryan and rolled for Biden. At no time did she focus the same level of follow-up on Biden that she kept lasering in on Ryan. There were a number of times when I wanted Ryan to stop, look at Radditz and ask her if he was debating one or two opponents.

    October 12, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
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