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. Jeffrey

    If you call being challenged for facts and then saying uh, we will figure it out later with congress winning, then congrads Mr. Ryan.

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  2. Taylor

    Really? I think it was close; however, Ryan was much more Presidential than the condescending Vice-President. 88 interruptions...really? Are people complaining about specifics because I'm pretty sure Biden didn't give him much room to breath let alone have his own 2 minutes to respond uninterrupted.

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  3. Thomas Shuster

    Can't get the images of Smirkin' Joe's madcap smiling and laughing out of my mind...he's unhinged!

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  4. Rick

    I will give the edge to Ryan. He was a little clearer on his message. Biden being the seasoned veteran should have been able to win Buthelezi didn't.

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  5. mkriley

    When somone looks you in the eyes and says "trust me", you know to run in the opposite direction. Joe was so arrogant and condescending that I now understand why Obama/Biden have been so ineffective with congrss these last four years. Romney/Ryan 2012!

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. Inthepursuitoftruth

    Biden was a disrespectful, pompous jerk who talked over Ryan constantly. Biden acted like everything Ryan said was stupid by laughing at every comment Ryan made. This was not a good tactic for the Obama-Biden campaign to use. Biden didn't even thank Ryan at the end of the debate, but Ryan politely thanked Biden when the debate was over. It made me angry that Biden couldn't show at least a little common courtesy!

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  7. Eugene9

    Biden kicked his butt. Were your "pollees" maybe listening to another debate in Australia?

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  8. Karen

    It was hard to watch and embarrassing to see our VP giggle and laugh like an arrogant frat boy. I actually like the president, but I will vote for Romney. The past four years have been a debacle – two things have helped me make my decision: 1) trying to figure out how our small business will ever survive Obamacare.. I have been to a couple of seminars and talked with an attorney – we have a huge mess on our hands. 2) Obama's handling of several foreign policy issues have weakened our country to the point of disaster. I mean who out there would want to be an ambassador for the Obama administration? This administration will not protect you or your family.

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  9. NYCTim

    John Martin Sain, with his wingnutty rhetoric and negativity, makes me embarrassed for America. Try being part of the solution, John, rather than part of the group blocking any real progress for this country and the Americans who need it.

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  10. peter s

    you better do this poll over again.

    October 11, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  11. spome

    Biden kicked Ryan's ass all over the debate room. Ryan was on defense all night, and showed he had little understanding of most of the questions asked and problems normal Americans face. Ryan just didn't have command of any answer he gave and gave zero specifics when asked for them.

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  12. Chris

    Biden was rude and condescending. Why would anyone want to work with him?

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  13. Phil M

    Biden was a disaster–full of his usual BS and misinformation. There's something not right with that guy.

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  14. phillipstanchin

    How is someone gonna win for lieing and not answering any questions that were asked like abortion, and how there gonna really fix taxes buy messing over middle class and make the rich rich richer1% im part of the 47%

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Biden kicked ass with facts

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  16. msrtkelsey

    There is NO way Ryan won that debate. Who did they poll? For every 10 FB posts, 0 said Ryan won. He was clearly out of his league. Biden schooled him old school style, and he was funny too! I'm moving FORWARD with OBAMA / BIDEN 2012!!!!!!

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  17. AE

    I think you news boys rig these polls (both ways) to stir up the popie. All Ryan could do was fall back on republican hackneyed talking points!!! He lost......

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  18. Breandan

    C'mon folks. I am not an Obama supporter in any way, but good GOD did Biden destroy Ryan. Ryan looked like an amateur on foreign policy, and he transparently lied directly to seniors about his budget's plans for Medicare. But the biggest thing, for me, was Ryan's complete and utter dishonesty on the abortion issue. Biden answered for liberty: I have my own faith, others have theirs, and we can coexist. Ryan sounded like a totalitarian. If people want a totalitarian, then so be it. But I sure as heck don't.

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  19. Ronald G. Kirchem

    Give me a break – Biden wiped the floor with that callow and immature pipsqueak.

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  20. andrew

    Ryan came across as an over-prepared robot. He dodged the difficult questions, and had his behind handed to him.

    Joe Biden was just way more genuine and himself – no fakery there!

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    joe biden win this debate

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  22. Sean

    Biden's scoffing reminded me of myself when my 3 yr old acts silly :)

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  23. Ray

    I can`t belive this CNN is claiming victory on Ryan what the hell is wrong with this people . Biden Clean the floor with the Ryan He didi`t know what to say . dissapointing Bryan . GO OBAMA WHAT IS BEST FOR THE COUNTRY ..

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  24. Glenn

    I think Biden probably won on substance and his style was mostly effective as well. However, I didn't like Biden's condescending smile. I think that smile is what hurt McCain when he used it in his debate with Obama.

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  25. jake

    Biden was arrogant and constantly interrupting.

    October 11, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
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