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. dutch

    Paul Ryan is used to being in a room with yes men, dimwits and reactionary christian conservatives. He was clearly in over his head. When Laura Ingraham and Dick Morris go public that a GOP darling boy lost a debate, he LOST THE DEBATE. The debate was a massacre. CNN's poll is ludicrous. the notion that with limited and inaccurate polling done in what, an hour? CNN thinks its admittedly extremely limited findings have any relevance to the race or nation as a whole is ludicrous. This poll, in a typical media cannibalistic self-feeding frenzy was used by numerous other talking heads and spin doctors, networks and news sites to announce that the debate was a draw. This is a microcosm of what is wrong with the high speed self-referential current world of media. Because no one...myself included, has the patience or attention span to wait for actual data or thought out analysis, any opportunity for a nuanced take on any event or sober reflectionis lost in a mad dash to the lowest common denominator, consensus sound bite. When 381 disproportionately republican people decide for the entire mainstream media how a debate played out, we have reached a point where once well-meaning reporters, correspondents and authors have spun themselves into irrelevance.

    October 12, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. spartan74

    It was the same old thing with Ryan and the entire Romney campaign. He didn't answer the questions and didn't give any details on his proposed plans even after the narrator asked him to provide details. She asked him several times to provide details on which tax loopholes he would close to compensate for his tax cuts for the wealthy but he refused. She asked him what he would do in response to the Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq issues and he wouldn't provide any details. First he said he agreed with the sanctions then said he wouldn't have done that but couldn't provide any alternatives or what he would have done instead. He's very good at criticizing but can't provide any better solutions.

    He and Romney want us to trust them to provide details until after they're elected. They're not very good at telling the truth and Romney changes his position on the issues more than he changes his magic underwear so I don't trust either of them any farther than I can see them.

    Anyone who's familiar with the issues and aware of the facts (this excludes people who watch fox "news") knows that Biden made Ryan look like the punk that he is and exposed him for the liar that he is.

    October 12, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. phillipe

    CNN is so liberal and so unfair. Your station is full of liberals that want to push the Democratic platform. You are not a news organization, you are a puppet/sham. To be fair, so FOX is the same, biased beyond belief.

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The news was designed to present the facts in a neutral manner, your station has a huge agenda

    October 12, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. rjs

    Go to the univision interview and listen to the answer Obama gave on the fast and furious question. What's up with that lie.

    October 12, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Dennis

    Ryan was like a kid that studied the answers but didn't understand the subject.

    October 12, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Steve

    @justanotherchildofgod.....The poll on CNN's front page is hardly scientific.

    October 12, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. dbrock

    I'll have to read a transcript of the debate. After watching it last night I was so distracted with Biden's interruptions that it was hard to comprehend what Ryan was trying to say.

    October 12, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. Diesel

    If you cared more about the reactions of either men or the tone of the debate you clearly weren't paying attention to what mattered. On the issues Ryan got trounced, Biden clearly was more knowledgeable and made a point of just how little the Romney/Ryan plans had to do with reality or substance. Ryan clearly demonstrated just how ignorant he is on foreign policy, diplomacy, and our standing in the world and took a beating on his ridiculous/terrifying healthcare plan. On the issue of tax breaks for the wealthy I'm still perplexed on how anyone would think trickle down economics will work, it never has and it never will. Money and power pool at the top... period. If you want to help the middle class you give them the tax breaks not the rich in the hope that somehow the money will filter on down to them... Seriously people, get a clue.

    October 12, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. Nipper

    Just saw on CNN that its poll involved 300 plus viewers who actually watched the debate - and the majority of these people are Republicans. Well Duh - of course Ryan won that poll. What idiots would post such a biased poll?

    October 12, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Georgina

    wow republicans clearly tune into CNN

    October 12, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Gary

    Too bad your liberal viewers don't get it. Even in the Atlanta newspaper (usually a liberal audience) the feed back is overwhelmingly against Biden, whose smirking and manical laughing was clearly distracting and indiciative of a man ill at ease with the facts and the truth. It's the talk of the internet. How anyone thinks he won the debate is beyond me. What's so funny about 15% unemployment? I sat with a group of independents to watch the debate and none of them–not one–thought Biden was professional. There was talk a few months ago that he was mentally ill. Maybe it's true.

    October 12, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Lauralei

    Abortion should be outlawed. It is murder.

    October 12, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. rconatser1

    I saw it as a clear victory for Biden. When pressed, Ryan would not answer questions. He would just dodge. Just like Romney. Even when they answer questions, they'll give you a different answer tomorrow. Slick as snakes. Worse than a used car salesman.

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Ron

    I think Biden was prepared to protect himself from the butting in attacks used in the Presidential debate by the republican candidate. .But these "debates" turn out to be arguments more that respectable debates about important issues.

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Jeff

    The Biden I watched last night behaved like a rude, sneering, dismissive, and condescending ass. Not the individual I want a heartbeat away from the Presidency. He invoked a classic debating technique – when your own position is weak and indefensible, do everything you can to interrupt the flow and the ability of the audience to follow your opponent's argument.

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Cindy

    Come on CNN! Everyone in America knows that Biden won this debate. Over coffee this morning at my office the Republicans in my office were congratulating the Democrats saying, "Okay we have to admit that Biden detroyed Ryan"

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. George

    You will only think Biden won if you think a debate should be handled like Chris Matthew's show.

    The stuff Biden was doing was completely out of line.

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  18. 012whoever

    CNN poled Republicans only they are not fair nor balanced

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. b-guy

    It's funny, when Biden follows the Romney debate approach -even according to CNN, everyone calls him arrogant and rude. Yeah, voting for Romney makes sense...we may as well relinquish our rights to someone who's stance clearly isn't FOR the middle class. And better hope someone close to you doesn't get raped. Especially in 39 states where the rapist can claim legal rights to the child the mother was FORCED to have.

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. David

    V.P. Biden needs to act more mature. This is a guy who is still Vice President of the United States of America for now. Represent America in a classier way you idiot! We don't need an immature brat who does not allow others to speak. That kind of personality has to make everyone wonder, will he even listen to the people's opinions?

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Bleebo

    I am entertained as to how you people are say Biden was this or that, and NOT ONCE have i heard or read where Mutt was disrespectful with his finger pointing, backwards thinking self during ANY of HIS DEBATES!!!!!! BIDEN WON and WORLD SAW it, not just on his laughing by sharin the TRUTH!!!!!!. Yeah and i am going to say it 100%.

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. matt

    Of course liberals will claim Biden was the clear winner, but notice that with people who are not die-hard liberals(like myself), Biden came across as arrogant, rude, and impatient. Dems claim that the debate "stopped the bleeding", last night, but it may have been a rush to judgement as they continue to mis-judge the independent likely voter's sentiment. To see polls showing Ryan as the winner should clearly signal liberals to quit overplaying the results and admit it was a draw at best. As an independent voter I have made my decision to vote Romney/Ryan based on the first two debates. I like the idea that a candidate is willing to admit that the details of a plan(or framework as Ryan called it) are negotiable rather than a list of partisan demands that get shoved down the throats of Americans. Overall I like that Romney has a vision instead of a detailed plan at this point Obama has offered nothing even remotely as substantive.

    October 12, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. MoCollins

    So besides making himself look like and idiot, Biden PROVED that bi-partisanship is IMPOSSIBLE under their regime, he couldn't even give Ryan the respect of listening to his view, much less try to find some common ground. His distractions were disrepectful not only to Ryan but more so to the people who wanted to hear what Ryan's ideas were. I thought they wanted Hope and Change. Apparently, they don't because they wouldn't even hear any other ideas. Which means more of the same. I really hope that people look at his behavior for what it is. An insult to any thinking American. And I'm glad they think all of these problems are humorous, but I guess they can afford to. We can't. Please America, get it right.

    October 12, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  24. lance

    I think Ryan did very well, considering, the opponent / the Moderator/ and the reporting news agencies are Pro Democrat. Biden needs to learn about debate manners & rules. Each are allotted a certain amount of time (2 – 4 minutes). You allow the opponent to finish and then you return with your rebuttal or answer. But to act like a BULLY? That should have cost Biden points. But the Liberal/ Democrats thought it to be aggressive? I am still with the thought – "Biden was hypnotized to do as well as he did. He didn't let one secret slip out, amazing." Come on fact checkers give your report.

    October 12, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  25. Allison

    I SURE don't want the crazy, laughing (what WAS so funny? Our economy is nothing to laugh at!!), rude man being second in command. Just changed my vote to Romney/Ryan!

    October 12, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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