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. Laura

    On Earth, Biden won!! It was the best debate I ever watched. Biden was ridin' Ryan right through BS Mountain to the Plain of Truth! LOVED IT, loved Biden, he said everything we think in our home and have been saying all year. 47% of the CNN poll must be rich people.

    October 12, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  2. Mac Valentine

    Did CNN get their polling info from Fox?

    October 12, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  3. PlzFlyOverMe

    Clearly Ryan was the adult tonight. Even if his policies are horrible. It's sad to see these new liberals who now expect pundit style behavior from their leaders in order to be taken seriously. Biden embarrassed himself tonight.

    October 12, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  4. Wes Scott

    As one who was on a college debate team and never lost a debate in an organized tournament I have to say that this was NOT a debate, or even anything close to it. Debates are structured events with absolute rules, and neither side is allowed to interrupt. Moderators tightly control the flow, and interruptions would be grounds for immediate forfeiture.

    This was a discussion based upon questions asked by a moderator. What stood out most to me was how Ryan continually refused to directly answer questions or provide specific details even when asked to do just that. Instead, he was playing the strategy of Romney, which is to ingore the questions and say whatever you want to say thinking nobody will notice. We DID notice.

    And, Ryan continued the campaign of lies, distortions and misstatements for which the Romney/Ryan campaign is famous. It was sad to watch a guy running for the second highest office in the free world resort to false statements again and again in an effort to make his points. He kept talking about how if you don't have a track record upon which to run, then get the audience to run from the other guy, and that is precisely what he did from minute one.

    Personally, I do not feel as if Joe Biden put on a spectacular show of strength, but at least he was honest and stated his true convictions rather than lie and obfuscate. I can tolerate a little unplanned bumbling much more than intentional deception. What Biden should have said is, "For a party that claims to want less governmental interference in citizens' private lives the GOP sure seems to always pursue policies that seek to control every aspect of those private lives."

    October 12, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  5. The pacific

    Biden beats Ryan big time.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Should have called all those free cell phones for the poll. Laughing Joe would win hands down

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  7. pixelogre

    haha, did you see the sample size? 381. That is you're decisive poll CNN, 381 people? Ryan had some moments, Biden was a bit too heavy handed with the laughs and interruptions, but in the end Biden schooled Ryan.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  8. Sherrie

    Paul Ryan was respectful, did an outstanding job of presenting FACTS accurately. Joe Biden made me sick with his sarcasm, mocking, disrespectful behavior. No VP should ACT like he did. He also threw his Secret Service under the bus stating that they knew it was a terrorist attack in Libya, yet President Obama decided to LIE to Americans with the election so close. Biden also said his secret service was inaccurate in facts they told President Obama, yet then turned right around to tell us he and Pres Obama would know without a shadow of doubt if Iran actually had a nuclear weapon because our secret service would be totally right..lies, more lies. Joe Biden made me sick from his severe lack of integrity and I look forward to JUSTICE prevailing. This administration has had 4yrs to do something right..all I see is they tore America up, I have never, ever seen such a mess as unemployment rates, major debt. It IS time for a change and the choice is VERY clear to me.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  9. Missouri Andrew

    So Ryan correctly points out that Obama/Biden foreign policy is weak and encourages Islamic terror and Iranian nukes... Biden has nothing to counter this. Ryan points out that Democrats had the Executive and Legislative branches and used their uncontested control to enrich special interest groups and welfare bureaucracies instead of allowing economic growth... and again Biden has nothing. Ryan points out that Medicare & Social Security are going broke and need fixed to survive, Biden tries to scare old people and again offers no solutions to a massive problem. Ryan correctly points out that JFK successfully lowered taxes, improving the economy and tax revenues at the same time. Biden's only retort? "Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?" I don't know what you cultists mix in your Kool-Aid, but if you believe that snickering fool did anything besides make himself look like a tired old crackpot jacked-up on caffeine, it's clearly messing with your minds.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  10. Jack

    Lets see...CNN polled 381 people......CBS polled 500. CBS results

    Fifty percent of undecided voters polled after watching the vice presidential debate picked Joe Biden as the winner while 31 percent thought Rep. Paul Ryan won.

    I have been noticing CNN trend toward Romney for weeks now. This just confirmed it. The head talkers their always praise Romney (even when he lies) while attacking Obama (even when he tells the truth). We can't let a liar and CNN win this election. DONATE TO OBAMA NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  11. Robert Hunter

    This is absurd. Check out every other poll... including the one on the CNN US Edition front page. Biden is way ahead.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  12. ajimeno81

    Biden by a hugh margin!!!

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  13. Chedar

    I thought Biden has more substance than Rysn. You can see Ryan not believable.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  14. Mike

    Ryan 1 heart beat away? Scary. Ok for Mitt to disrespect Prez? Take the hit GOP, Ryan lost.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  15. scott

    I call BS on that poll.. Ridiculous. Was Conservative group bombarded that one? Biden won squarely.. second place went to Martha Radditz.. Ryan was a distant paltry third place finisher..

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  16. Erik

    haha, Mike in Nevada you sound as crazy Biden. Last time I checked a crazy old guy who talks over the other candidate and consistently snickers at him and berates him doesn't tend to endear himself to undecided voters, especially women...

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  17. DK

    Biden mopped the floor with Ryan. Everyone I know who watched it said Biden won. That "Oh now you're Jack Kennedy." line will go down in history. And Ryan really screwed up saying politicians should control women's reproductive rights. No, women should control their own rights. Neither Ryan nor Romney get it. Biden and Obama do. CNN is waaaaaaay off.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  18. Donna

    Everyone I've talk with and most media outlets have said Ryan won. Fact checker have already come out with many lies from Biden although he constantly accuse Ryan of lying .... But the first question about The American embassy saying theWhite House never received a request was an lie. Congressional Hearings are being held now and it was determine they were made aware of it several times. Next Ryan asked Biden if he knew what the unemployment rate is in his home town Biden said yes they both agreed 10% Ryan ask what it was when they took office and Ryan said 8% Ryan said this is how it is across the county unemployment is rising and Biden said no thats not going on yet he agreed unemployment had gone up, finally Biden claimed Ryan voted to fund bot wars and said he didn't, yet if you look at the record Biden did vote to fund both wars. ,,,

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  19. lean6

    I didn't watch the debate. I'm done with the media circus and whatever is driving their desperate motivation to keep giving Rob-me mouth-to-mouth every couple of days. It resembles their willingness to saturate headlines with Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Santorum and allowing the GOP to write their own narrative for the past four years while the GOP and Tea Party were hijacking and sabotaging our Congress. Rob-me was called out for blatant lies during the last debate, but the entire focus was on President Obama's performance, mirroring what even Newt Gingrinch said about the difficulty in debating a shamelessly dishonest Mitt Romney.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  20. angela

    Romney is ignorant when it comes to foreign policy . romney has no clue ...
    He singles out 47% of Americans... he is out of touch people.. he does not understand... he does not get it..

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  21. Scothren

    Biden is a fool and proved it on national tv – loser and a liar doesn't set well with educated Americans. Biden said "I was there....I said we couldn't afford it" .....LIAR!!!! Biden voted for both wars! He's just a loser and now will be known as a weirdo liar.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  22. Amy

    RYAN definitely WON! That freaky creepy smile was alarming. Ryan was calm and collected and represented the facts despite Biden's constant interruptions.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  23. bill orielly

    I just seen a poll gallop past my house Ryan winning76-24 lol.....Polls SUCK!

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  24. Frizzy

    Who lost? Biden or Ryan? WE will all be the losers if Obama and Biden get 4 more years to ruin this country completely!

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  25. Alyx

    Well if this says anything it's discrediting CNN's polling ability.

    October 12, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
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