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. Joanne

    Why give such a visible role on tv to the undecided voters? I fear anyone who has not decided long ago and might decide based on a television debate. Scary! If you are a Democrat you will say that Biden won. If you are a Republican you will say that Ryan won. If you don't know, you might want to start reading a variety of newspapers long before October.

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. MICHAEL.J.MORSE

    Paul Ryan called Biden out on all his and Obama's false promises. trying to sell us a bridge like they did 4 years ago.
    Paul Ryan all the way.

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  3. pat pat

    Biden was rude, constantly referring to his opponent as "my friend". No class. No vote.

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Jerome

    "When a wise person debates with a fool, the fool rages and laughs, and there is no peace and quiet." Proverbs 29:9. Joe Biden, God just called you a fool.

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  5. Nobama

    Biden certainly showed up last night! But what did Obama/Biden have to show to voters?
    No record for the last four years! No vision for the next four years!!!

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  6. Mr Opinionated

    This was a Biden smackdown from beginning to end. While Ryan stood poised and alert, Joe B. kicked his a**. Way to go Joe.

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. Pam

    BIDEN won hands down! Everyone is saying Biden was rude and laughing a lot. Hell, how many times did Romney interrupt President Obama and was rude to the moderator. Romney smiled and made faces just as much as Biden did! BIDEN rocked the house with FACTS!

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. More Tape Please

    Don't know what CNN is talking about – Biden wiped the floor with Ryan. Now Obama needs to do the same to Romney and the election will be wrapped up.

    October 12, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  9. Joseph Velder

    psssst... CNN, pull down your skirt, your bias is showing!!!

    October 12, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  10. Bob

    I will give credit to biden...he was energized and dominated the debate. However, Ryan was stronger on the issues and didn't act like a fool the way Joe did. I know I know, the libtards are all saying that was Just "Joe being Joe", but the fact is Biden didn't look presidential. The VP debate is supposed to be about who is best qualified to take over the presidency at a moments notice. I fool who laughs and smirks when talking about important issues likes Jobs, the national debt, and Iran getting a nuclear weapon isn't up to the task.

    October 12, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  11. TexDoc

    Save your hyperbole, insults and distractions. No one posting here or reading here is undecided.

    October 12, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  12. John

    who cares?

    October 12, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  13. adams63

    Who won?

    October 12, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. J Cousin

    Everyone says facts, facts how can you have facts when each has their own 'facts' to back it up The ONLY fact we know is the Debt is Higher than it has ever been and the Current Administration wants to spend even MORE...

    The Debate boils down to this... 'One heart beat away...'

    Smirky the Idiot or Paul Ryan...

    October 12, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  15. Dav

    biden was grinning because he was lying and thought he was selling it.He was not ,the American voters heard an obama stooge at his worst.bye obama and bidens failed administration gone Nov 2012

    October 12, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. Really?

    Interesting...when Romney was assertive it was ok. However, when Biden is asertive it is not ok. When Obama was calm he was called weak. However, when Ryan is calm it is a good thing. The double standard makes me sick.

    October 12, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  17. KJL

    Well, it's apparent that CNN REALLY is getting paid to throw a positive light on the Republican Neanderthals. Just change the name CNN to 'The Other Fox" and it will be more honest.

    October 12, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  18. Peter

    Preposterous...Biden clobbered Ryan on sheer debate points: Afghanistan, military cuts, taxes, Medicare, Social Security, Women's reproductive rights and Stimulus. The only area where Biden fell short and I'll give Ryan the edge was on Libya, even though Ryan was culpable for cutting Embassy security budgets against requests.

    October 12, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  19. betterdays

    Thanks Joe! You exceeded my expectations. It was sort of like watching a music video for Stuff Smith's "I'se a Muggin'."

    Constantly laughing at your opponent, interrupting with impunity and rolling your eyes for 90 minutes is an interesting debate technique. I hope Obama tries the same approach next week. That would be very helpful!

    October 12, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  20. Let them Eat Cake

    Kicking and screaming. Watch the sore losers riot in the cities when there is a changing of the guards.

    October 12, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  21. John

    Ryan did suprising well in his first national debate against a seasoned salty ole dog...let's all hope this is the first of many Ryan future opportunities

    October 12, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  22. trex

    .....If YOU want TRUTH...............vote DEM...................................If you want tax cuts for Billionaires, vote GOP.

    October 12, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  23. DKG

    Did anyone happen to notice that this article is just a slight re-write of last week's article about the Presidential debate? They even got the day of the week wrong (referring to it as Wednesday's debate) because they used the exact same ridiculous quote from the pollster in charge: "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." Really? This poll only reflects the views of those who watched the debate? Shocking! How would people who didn't watch the debate react to the debate?

    October 12, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  24. sun

    Ryan clearly smart choice for vp..my vote safe with Romney and Ryan for 2012.

    October 12, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  25. Peter Clarke

    The numbers they throw around hardly mean anything, I went by the passion in the answers and clearly Joe Biden won this debate. If I remember George Bush was a big time business guy,top down economics; not much came down for the middle class during that administration.

    October 12, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
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