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. Sue

    I was totally turned off by Biden. Normally, the v.p. wouldn't influence my vote....but I know I don't want him as my president, should it come to that. He's a lunatic. Disrespectful. He looked "evil." No confidence there! Obama/Biden won't get my vote.

    October 12, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. jon

    If Americans thought Ryan won this debate, they must be far more delusional than I could ever have imagined.

    October 12, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. umo

    Anyone who believes the stuttering thirsty Ryan won this debate is OBVIOUSLY a Republican. Ryan in no way, shape, or form won this debate. This poll is biased and CNN as I am staring to notice endorses the Republicans. Their polls are based on ppl in their cafeteria obviously. CNN spends so much time trying to discredit Obama and bring truth to Romney and his flip-flopping ideas. FOX and CNN are quite interesting biased networks.

    October 12, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. RON SAMPSON

    Bottom line....the rich is going to vote for Mitt......the poor and those think they will be more is going to vot for obama.

    October 12, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  5. Randy

    Dear CNN,
    How journalistically unresponsible to push a poll that is, by your own admission, not a true sampling! Please don't tell us about being within the "margin of error", fortheloveofpete. You know as well as anyone that most people will not take the time to read the small print, but rather just the headline saying Ryan was the favorite in your poll. It's skewed and it's misleading. More like something that would be "fair and balanced". If you're going to do a poll, do it right. Or don't publish it at all. That is the responsibility you have to your viewers and your readers!

    October 12, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. QuitCryinBarry

    I guess people are starting to realize Big Bird is not as important as dragging the battered body of an American through the streets of Lybia.

    October 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. Chuck Hendrix

    A poll of 381 people: 120 Republican, 118 democrats, and 133 "independents", is not even close to being "scientific" nor a true measure of who may have won the debate. Most assuredly so if more Republicans than Democrats were polled. But do not let reality get in the way of denial. Romney is not going to become President of the United States of America, ever.

    October 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. James

    Biden is rude, unprofessional and didn't have much substance. He looks like an angry bully man.

    Ryan is calm, giving clear points and professional.

    October 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Alex

    For those who are making jabs about Biden's style, I would refer you back to Romney's debate performance last week. He was rude, arrogant and interrupted the moderator many times, including just talking over him. So your argument there does not hold water. Biden had the facts and the record to back up his arguments. The one thing that stuck out for me, when Ryan was asked about specifics of Romney's tax plan, he could not answer or refused to answer the question. That says a lot. Yes, politicians do a lot of talking around questions (Obama and Biden both do it frequently), but to not even be able to give some examples of your plan shows a lack of respect for the American people. Ryan, I will give some credit was articulate at certain points in the debate and came across as reasonably likable. But, Biden hit it out of the park and down the street.

    October 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. james holbrook

    Joe has won this debate ! There is no way this poll is accurate.

    October 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. senfhawk

    Ryan was soft-spoken, sincere, and serious. Biden seemed to take the entire proceeding as a farce. In treating it so, he made it so. More importantly, he made the Obama administration look like what it is: a bullying, bloviating, obnoxious administration more interested in talking over its opponents than working with them to improve the lives of Americans.

    Biden LOST

    October 12, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. cg10

    If these two guys are elected, they will make the Bush years look like a happy field trip! Don't be fooled wake up and save yourselves vote Obama, Biden 2012!

    October 12, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. America Stands With the President

    No more Rhomboid! America Sees Obama as their ONLY Hope for the Middle Class and that was made patently clear at last night's debate! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!

    October 12, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. Joan

    Unfortunately, the CNN vice presidential debate poll is going to lead many people to question the reliability and credibility of all of their future polls. Calling only 381 land line users with more Republicans in the mix is not very scientific or reliable. To try and pretend that represents the thinking of millions of Americans is insulting their intelligence. Didn't they check the online polls on their own site which gave VP Biden poll numbers in the 60's all night? Very disappointing.

    October 12, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Draka

    Being rude – interrupting your opponent in a debate I wonder where he could have learned that from .Lets hope at the next debate both candidates act like adults and let the other speak.

    October 12, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. king

    Ryan the Junior liar exposed himself terribly when talked about green energy dollars, caught red-handed!

    October 12, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. Dav

    obama failed America as president and in his debate,biden came accross a demented old fool,He had no control ,he belongs in a nurseing home

    October 12, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. amara

    If your a senior and vote romney after that voucher thing you are nuts...

    October 12, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Lisa C.

    I literally couldn't watch it after the first 15 minutes. Biden was so over-the-top and offensive that I am convinced that he would be a horrendous president were Obama to die in office. I am a registered independent, in a swing state, that will, as a result of last night, vote for Romney/Ryan. Good going, Joe! The insulting, in-your-face Chicago tactics worked a long time ago but the world has passed you by. Even Putin has cleaned up his public act. But, once a trained pit bull, and now too old to change, well, we're finished with your act.

    October 12, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Pander Bear

    Biden pounded him. Period.

    October 12, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. NYCL Poster

    I think both of them did a great job but I have to take point away from Joe for that constant laughing and interrupting. He is the elder statesman and he should have known better.

    October 12, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. TAB

    VP Biden was condescending, arguementative and rude..... Very disconcerting to see in someone that is supposed to be ready to stand in for POTUS. The constant interuptions, smirking and remarks basically calling his oppents liars only made him look rediculous. as an Independant Voter he just lost my vote for his team.

    October 12, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Lin McKay

    Turns out I like Ryan better. VP Biden thinks he is something special and his facial expressions and rude interruptions were really unprofessional. The thought of Biden moving into the office of president if there was a need horrifies me and makes me wonder why Obama is sticking with Biden. There are better running mates that have respect of the country.

    October 12, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. mike alameda

    biden won no doubt about it!

    October 12, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. Alex

    Seriously, you're voting for Romney because the VP was rude? Remember the presidential debate, Romney was extremely rude to the President by laughing and interupting the President. Come up with better reasons to vote for Romney.

    October 12, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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