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. Mike

    I'm completely lost on how people view debates. Reading these comments and watching Facebook...it's like watching a bunch of sheep. It's as if social media has everyone scared to death to do anything but support their party 100% even when one of their candidates does something wrong. If a debate is a time for one person to belittle, ridicule and make fun of the other. Biden wins. If a debate is meant to be between one person and a moderator both against the other, then Biden wins again. If a debate is an opportunity for an extended ad campaign on your team's message, Ryan wins. If a debate is a professional discussion of ideas between two people deliberating on differences in those ideas, then the American people lost. It's a circus, a game show and it's offensive to the citizens of this country. And the fact that all of you jump on one ship or the other in this debacle is an embarrassment.

    October 12, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  2. Robert

    Gotta love that idiot Biden with words like conflating. Whats that mean ole Joe?

    October 12, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  3. Mmoore

    Ryan would have given more specifics if Biden hadn't butted in and talked over him every time he tried to answer a question. The one who is the most pleased with Biden's performance is Al Gore. Now people will talk about Laughing Joe instead of Sighing Gore.

    October 12, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  4. darren1984

    Of course democrats think Biden won. He was as smug and arrogant as they are, and he did a good job firing up the base. He just annoyed everybody else. As if Biden interrupting wasn't enough, the moderator rarely let Ryan finish his points.

    October 12, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  5. JJantzi

    Biden may have not been very polite, but I think that both Obama and Biden are just sick of both Romney & Ryan lying through their teeth and changing their stories on these platforms just to appease the people in front of them.

    October 12, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  6. Graham

    What debate were these people watching? When pressed for specifics as to how he plans to pay for his 20% tax cut, Ryan continued his strategy of ducking the question. The moderator flat out called him on this, essentially saying "Ok, so no answer, next question". "Specifically, we're going to work out the specifics later" is not an acceptable answer to such an important question. These are questions you need to have answers to, and without answers, you're just not ready to be in the White House.

    October 12, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  7. Lisa

    Margin of error: +/- 5%. This is a very inaccurate poll. Exactly how many people did they poll? 20?

    October 12, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  8. Patrick

    Biden showed the American people why nothing gets done in Washington. While Congressman Ryan conducted himself in a manner indicative of a statesman Biden consistently displayed the demeanour of a junk yard dog. Laughing, smirking, grimicing, goofy faces and forever interrupting. The Joker. Always talking, never listening.

    October 12, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. Maria

    You know what, what difference does it make? Is this country winning or has it been or has this been 4 of the roughest years you can remember? If you say no, your lying. When the goverment tells an employer dont notify your workers with 60 days notice of a upcoming lay off and it is required by law, but says the your litigation fees will be paid as a result, isn't that enough for you people? You are lied to every day.

    October 12, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  10. dpm

    Hard to debate a kid who thinks he has all the answers, and lies like his boss. Biden called him on his true nature.. Elect Ryan – we'll see who the bully really is..

    October 12, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  11. Steinguy1

    Biden was without a doubt frazzeled and disrespecrful of the commentator and Ryan last night. He is willing to say anything to help the party win.

    October 12, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  12. bobalu

    Biden was laughing too much. I know he was laughing at the ridiculous statements of Ryan, but to the average simpleton undecided voter he would have looked condescending and not taking the debate seriously.

    October 12, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  13. Iknowwhatimtalkingabout

    Biden had more zingers, Ryan had more substance.

    October 12, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. Ann Jenkins

    I think VP Joe Biden and the moderator won! If Biden had not interrupted Ryan , he would not have been able to talk. If the Moderator had not held control of the debate, Ryan's plan was to talk down the could without clarifying anything, the same as Romney! Go Obama/Biden!

    October 12, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. Mary

    BIDEN..all the way....All your negative points were,,," he laughed"....well that is easy when you hear what comes out of Romney/Ryan and their big fat lies!!! Good Job Joe!!!

    October 12, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  16. Matt

    So in this poll, you oversample Republicans and have to give a few extra points to the Democrats to make up for it. In prior Presidential polls, you can oversample Democrats and say that's just the way the numbers work? Propaganda!

    October 12, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  17. johnbnyc

    This debate was a joke. Both sides said nothing, spun the events to not even resemble the truth. Let's face it, both VP candidates are poor choices.

    October 12, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  18. John

    It was a split decision. Ryan won the debate on the issues with a clear, concise argument.

    Biden won the "who's the bigger bully with the whitest teeth" contest.

    October 12, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  19. Tarin

    They both are good debaters. Biden was a little smirky, but Ryan was also rude. Biden won because he gave facts and solutions, whereas Ryan gave no solutions even when pressed.

    October 12, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  20. Ramirez

    Biden won. Hands down.

    October 12, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  21. Joanne

    I actually felt sorry for Paul Ryan last night. Joe Biden was most able to answer the questions in my opinion.

    October 12, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. Jeremy

    Joe Biden was extremely rude. Even my 5 yr old knows it's very impolite to interrupt someone. Apparantly, the VP doesn't believe in that lesson when you're on live national TV

    October 12, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  23. walker

    This article is so biased – if Biden had won by 1 point, the headline would have been "Biden clear winner"

    October 12, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  24. pastorcal77

    Joe Biden: a gift to Republicans that just keeps giving!

    October 12, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  25. e.jones

    wow...i wonder if the numbers cnn is getting saying ryan won the debate are the same numbers saying the president is losing florida and michigan by 7 points

    October 12, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
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