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. ObamaTheOnlyLeader

    Ouch, the polls are starting to come in. Looks like Ryan really did win the debate. Unfortunately I was unable to watch.

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

    Interruptions? Marlarkey!!! Biden was not allowing Ryan to get away with tossing out more lies.
    Just wish Mr. Obama had interrupted a bit during HIS debate last week when Romney was lying through his teeth.
    I loved Joe Biden's performance ... and I believe he won.

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  3. Laurie

    As a mother, all I saw was Joe Biden attempting to "Bully" his way through the debate. What example does this make for our children? I had to turn the TV off as my eight year old asked "why won't he let the other guy talk?" This kind of behavior is recognized even by our children. Mr. Biden, you were on national TV – kids were watching and we lost a potential educational experience.

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. Moor

    Look the comments from this article. If one-third were the Republicans how come the sample of debate watchers is more Republican. Simple math.

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  5. ObamaTheOnlyLeader

    I wonder if debates have any impact on elections.

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. Critical Thinker

    How can Romney and Ryan promise everything to every Republican interest, including additional defense spending, while balancing the budget and reducing the debt? VOODO ECONOMICS, that's how! No specifics, just tell voters what they want to hear.

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. Brian

    It's not a matter of who won, who was nicer, etc. It's about substance. They both have their own stances on jobs, the economy, taxes, etc. But for me, I am scared to death that Paul Ryan is incoherent when it comes to the withdrawl in Afghanistan, and the current situation in Iran. Reading between the lines, they want a war in Iran. It's Saddam Hussein and WMDs all over again!

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. RealityChk

    Ryan was more professional, seemed sincerely interested in solving American's problems. He had solutions and a willingness to work with the democrats without leading our country to bankruptcy. Ryan's knowledge of foreign affairs was a pleasant surprise and very comforting. Ryan is believable and appears honest, with out tooting his own horn. Biden reminded me of disrespectful teenager in the back of the classroom. One that feels a need to overpower or act out for attention, even if that means yelling and not being truthful, and feels a need to remind us that "I say what I mean and mean what I say". In my opinion, Ryan was more presidential and believable.

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. Solitaire

    Last I saw CNN's poll numbers online, Biden was leading 2 to 1. This morning I get up and see this? In what universe?

    October 12, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. tom

    No one has mentioned that Ryan seemed like a deer in the headlights for most of the debate and what about the copious amounts of water he was consuming? To me that gulp of water signified a set of nerves. Joe never touched a drop the whole time. Body language tells a lot.

    October 12, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. Charlie from the North

    Joe Biden never interrupted Ryan when Ryan was giving his opinion Biden did interrupt with fact checking. Every time Ryan made up a fact Biden corrected him. Was it Biden's fault that it happened 87 times? No. If Ryan had kept to the actual facts and his opinions about those facts there would have been no interruptions.

    As far as his laughing, while that was a bit rude I do not believe I could have heard Congressman Ryan call for "bi-partisanship" without laughing louder than Joe did.

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

    The people that saw ryan win are the same fools that voted twise for bush...

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

    Joe Bite Me was malarky!!! Looked angry and bitter.

    American people know who won this debate despite the spin from democrat party.

    October 12, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. K Walker

    Ryan stated he would promote anti-abortion legislation. This would take the country back into the last century. In any other developed country in the world, a statement like that would torpedo their chance of ever getting in.

    October 12, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  15. d.

    As an independent who has voted for both party's in the past, I am very disappointed in how poorly the Democratic ticket is performing this time around. The President didn't seem interested or involved in his debate and the Vice President came across as a political bully and rude. After two debates, I am leaning towards voting Republican. This administration doesn't seem like they are interested in leading this country in a positive direction at best and worst they appear unwilling to engage in the dialogue necessary to break the stalemate that exist in Washington.

    October 12, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Jim

    CNN, see what happens when you post results that conflict with you position and the position of your mindless viewers? That's right, they turn on you like a pack of zombies desperately looking for brains. Unfortunately they will come up empty.

    October 12, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. buzz

    Still no specifics from Ryan, I am thinking of voting the same as him. NO!

    October 12, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  18. Jeff

    How can anyone watch that and think Biden lost. He dominated his opponent with cogent facts and specifics. The arguments I've read on this thread all say things like "he wasn't polite ... therefore he lost" ... what is this grade 4?

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

    Biden came to win and succeeded!

    October 12, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  20. Ancient Texan

    Penny Wright- Biden is that you? The same lies that Biden told.

    October 12, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. Kevin

    I hear people keep saying Biden won last night. He came off as being very unprofessional if anything.

    October 12, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  22. Jennifer

    Biden won. Ryan looked lost and couldn't answer the questions when asked. I kept waiting for him to yell "San Dimas High School football rules"

    October 12, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  23. Steve

    I'm a republican from Massachusetts, I think both guys had a good performance. I have to say some things that come out of Bidens mouth are funny. As far as the laughing goes, it was a little over the top.

    October 12, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. Ladeebugg

    I feel that Biden did a great job representing the middle class and explaining the President's policies. I wasn't bothered by the fact that Biden laughed alot. Because everytime he laughed I knew he was about to call out Ryan on his lies or flip flopped policies. I find it to be ironic that some people feel that Biden was arrogant and disrespectful BUT he used the same tactics as Romney did last week.

    October 12, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  25. Miss

    Biden clearly won. This poll was based on 381 people. Try another poll today and you'll see a clear winner.

    October 12, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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