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. Polar Bear

    Biden's the Vice President?! When did that happen? Tell me it isn't so! We seriously didn't elect that buffoon to a high office, did we? I thought it was all a bad dream. Darn.

    October 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. angryersmell

    If after this (or any) debate, you're switching your vote for who will run this country and which policies will be pursued over the next 4 years, and you're basing your decision on how "rude" a candidate was, or how much you did or didn't like the moderator, do us all a favor and stay home in November.

    October 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Learn math please

    How can you say ANYONE did ANYTHING when there is a +/- 5% margin of error. By that logic, Ryan ran away with it! Or maybe Biden won! Or maybe the Easter Bunny did it! Seriously, why bother with a poll with that much wiggle room. Stupid.

    October 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. goodgrief

    IIs anyone even listening to the content of these debates? To be President, contestants now have to be actors who can say just about anything – true or false. I mean, why would we even want a politicians with integrity and truth as President, right?

    October 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. JohnnyZ

    Biden was aggressive and striking. Ryan talked a lot about what the future holds for nuclear weapons in Iran, Social Security, Medicare, etc. It came of a fear mongering. "This is what will happen if you don't vote in Mitt and me." Biden shot down each of his attempts with pretty accurate deflections, demonstrating a strong grip on real world reality.

    Although Ryan was confident, Biden destroyed the foundations Ryan attempted to lay.

    October 12, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Suni

    Democrats are getting sillier by the day! Obama who looked like he was on sleeping pills overdosed, and then
    comes a clown Joe who was clearly on laughing gas, even a child knows when someone’s speaking not to interrupt or laugh, roll eyes or smirk. They both decided to make a mockery of the National Debates. This Circus team holding White House hostage must go!
    Romney/Ryan are serious options that America has if they do want to get back on track to recovery, otherwise we have these two buffoons who will
    Run amuck for next 4 years and still blame the previous administration for their obvious failures.
    Note for women – Vote for Change a real Change please – Romney/Ryan – 2012 is the only wise answer. I would rather take a chance on
    Romney/Ryan team then what I have seen in last 4. No more 4 years for clowns we have now!

    October 12, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Suni

    Democrats are getting sillier by the day! Obama who looked like he was on sleeping pills, and then
    comes a clown Joe who was clearly on laughing gas, even a child knows when someone’s speaking not to interrupt or laugh, roll eyes or smirk. They both decided to make a mockery of the National Debates. This Circus team holding White House hostage must go!
    Romney/Ryan are serious options that America has if they do want to get back on track to recovery, otherwise we have these two buffoons who will
    Run amuck for next 4 years and still blame the previous administration for their obvious failures.
    Note for women – Vote for Change a real Change please – Romney/Ryan – 2012 is the only wise answer. I would rather take a chance on
    Romney/Ryan team then what I have seen in last 4. No more 4 years for clowns we have now!

    October 12, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Andy

    Religion shouldn't have any say in government.

    October 12, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    america is in bad shape with both of these partys. none of them win in my eyes. it reminds me of the mickey mouse club. i'd be better off voting for mickey mouse.

    October 12, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    To be President, contestants now have to be actors who can say just about anything – true or false. I mean, why would we even want a politician with something like integrity as President, right? Is anyone even listening to what is being said?

    October 12, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. Plew

    Some of those politcal analyst on CNN should resign from commenting on politics. Both Gergen and Axel Rod are very bias. Paul Ryan interrupted Byden on numerous occasions as well. Look how many times Paul Ryan was sipping water. Isn;t this a sign of weakness? Look his demeanor throughout the debate. Paul Rya

    October 12, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. southernwonder

    i agreee that ryan expressed himself better. but it is not uncommom to see that one can be very good at expressing a nonsense. ryan was just that. biden was good, but not as good as the sensible agenda he and obama espouse and deserve.

    October 12, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Concerned that CNN is biased

    Why isn't this DISCLAIMER below in quotes at the top of your story instead of buried in the middle?

    It come across as BIASED & is VERY MISLEADING to say the least...

    "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."

    October 12, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. airtuan

    Just 1 question to the liberal folks regarding who won the debate...If you have a son, and he is going to be on a world stage like the debate last night, do you want your son be to seen like Ryan or Biden?? Your answer will be the true answer to who won the debate last night !!
    For several moments, I was worry for Biden that his new Dentures would fall out of his mouth during those laughs. By the way, Hollywood is hiring someone to play the Joker in next Batman movie. Hey Joe, you can apply for that job becaiuse you will be unemployed in Jan 2013.
    Ryan, You Rocked !! Good Job!

    October 12, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    From the article:
    "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."

    Now that one sentence says it all about the slanted results of that CNN poll.
    How can it be claimed that this poll was well within the margin of error when the polling sample was composed of mostly republicans??

    October 12, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. goodgrief

    IIs anyone even listening to the content of these debates? To be President, contestants now have to be actors who can say just about anything – true or false? Sure, why would we want a politicians with integrity as President, right? The GOP has made this into a circus – once again. Even within the debate Ryan kept changing his mind!!! Are you dumb people even understanding any of this? Good Grief!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. peppermint fizz

    Paul Ryan is so false, the truth is not in him. He reminds me of Damien in the Omen. On the other hand, VP Biden is someone to be respected, a great man. No contest.

    October 12, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. jeffbstatefarm

    If the polls would have been the other way, would the headline have been "Debate watchers split over who won..."? I doubt it. It would have been, "BIden wins by a landslide." No shock though from the Clinton News Network.

    October 12, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. alfonds

    Biden was trying to hide Obams's dirty under ware by putting on a fake smile. I have to say that his parents did not teach him manners at home while he was growing up-And that's ok. My point is that Obama send his Pit bull to try and fix his much needed administration's upgrade and as a result he (Obama) forgot to consider for one moment that the people of the USA are not dumb and stupid. His stupidity was left behind the debate cameras with fake smiles and improper interruptions. Go Republicans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    October 12, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Dr. Don Pietro

    "Obiden" was the same usual fool he has been his whole life in politics, starting even before he lied about his academic record decades ago. Yes, he was correct with some facts during the debate, such as the sanctions hurting Iran's oil sales in particular. However, fact checkers on both sides along with the CBO and GAO reports regarding Ryan's statements about Obama Care have been proven to be the correct facts, not the "malarky" Biden was spewing out. The winner was cleanly Paul Ryan. Biden showed the real Biden as Axelrod professed – a disrespectful, ignorant, condescending village idiot.

    October 12, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Rick

    A sampling of less than 400 viewers immediately after the debate smells fishy to me. Anyone who thought Ryan won the debate last evening must have been watching a different debate than I watched. Biden clearly handed Ryan a dose of reality. You can't lie to Biden and expect to get away with it. It was refreshing to watch Biden laugh in Ryans face as he fumbled to tell the truth and couldn't provide specifics. I guess anyone who claims that CNN is left leaning can put that argument to rest. Obviously CNN jumped the gun and declared a winner before "the people" had a chance to weigh in.

    October 12, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Mcookson

    How I feel about the debate is that Vic. Pres. Biden did very well and won this debate. If one knows about debates is that they are very passionate and bring out the most of an individual. Biden had more facts and was more on game than Mr. Ryan, and I thought he did do okay, but Biden knows more about the issues and presented them very well. Four more years is going to be great. Housing up, unemployment going down and jobs rising and the auto industry rising. :)

    October 12, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. wonfish

    I'd rather look at Biden's smile than Romney's, who had a sardonic, demonic grin that frightend me so I had to turn off the TV.

    October 12, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Mike

    This time the public have a better understanding of the different on the issues. I believe both good but Joe Biden was
    more clear on the explanations. In my opinion Biden did a better job on FP,Med, abortion,and the economy is getting
    better. I would not like my mother to worried about not having $ to pay for her med.

    October 12, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Babsy

    Joe Biden's face must have been red when he sobered up this morning. What a total embarrassment. I almost, repeat almost, felt sorry for him. What is so funny about the Libyan issue? I'm retired from the Foreign Service. Why would the death of my former colleagues have given him such a belly laugh? Am I missing something?

    October 12, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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