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. lugrd5

    Look closely at the poll up there. Only 381 people responded our of the millions watching. That's hardly a true poll. This is a throwaway piece.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  2. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    What?!? Biden CLEARLY won. He wiped the floor with Ryan. Ryan's body language and frequent drinking of water showed that he knew he was outclassed. Fightin' Joe gave us Dems just what we were looking for tonight. Obama/Biden 2012! And by the way: Even before this debate, the electoral college maps still had Obama well ahead. Victory is in sight....

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  3. Jeff

    How can anyone say Ryan won that debate? Who are these people that voted? The guy looked like an uniformed child compared to Biden.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  4. cram

    come to think of it, not many dems watched the debate for fear of biden messing it up more. there were more reps looking forward to a debate sweep. did not happen. so they answer the poll in favor of ryan, despite what was obvious. play it again, and let the polls in again.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  5. DC

    "Clearly, Joe Biden won this debate-hands down" -Everybody looking for a handout.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  6. ervinrw

    this poll is a "bunch of stuff." biden was head and shoulders above ryan tonight. i'm a republican, and even i admit that. and i also think biden was more truthful on the facts, than ryan, but most of american can't follow the debate intellectually i am afraid.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  7. Drew

    I believe Biden won the debate. There were times where he acted unprofessional when smirking or laughing as Ryan spoke, however he backed up everything he said by standing by his convictions of the past four years. Ryan, on the other hand, was very dull and not exciting. He came off like a choir boy and recited the same weak arguments over the past four years. Plus in his closing statement, Ryan came off like some guy going on one of those videos that are sent off to a dating service desperately seeking someone. Ryan's demeanor was weak compared to Romney's.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  8. jeffc

    Biden won!

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  9. JuanP

    Best raised point was done by the moderator when she asked Paul Ryan to provide specifics for the Romney/Ryan economic & tax plans he wasn't able to do so.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  10. Strategist

    They must have polled certain people in Florida who want Obama to lose, which makes this poll incredible!

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  11. tfbuckfutter

    I'm sorry to be the one who says this but.....Paul Ryan looks like he is always just about to rape someone.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  12. musician

    Biden is about ten times as smart as Ryan will ever be. Ryan sounded like he was trying to remember his memorized lines. Joe needed no such crutch. He simply knows the facts and the history and the complexities. I`ve always loved Joe Biden but even more so tonight.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. Marlon Cango

    Ryan has more content, Biden has more Biden.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  14. James

    This poll has nothing to do with the actual substance of the debate and everything to do with the fact that Biden looked like a complete jerk. No one cares how great your facts are if you are a complete tool.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  15. Maria

    I thought Biden was rude and condescending , just plan disrespectful. There is a way to get your point across without acting like an a... I thought Ryan showed a lot of style and class. Even if Biden had a good point to make it was lost in his actions.

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  16. dennis

    Ryan crushed Biden...all he did was laugh the whole

    October 11, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  17. PattiPatti

    Biden won this debate by FAR. With facts and details. Seems republicans can dish it out but not take it. The fact checkers will tear Ryan to pieces in the coming day.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  18. Kiowastar7

    Great debate win for Biden. Ryan – How can you win a debate with any presenting any factual plans or strategies?

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  19. Woz

    That's odd. The poll on your main page shows that 65% of people felt Biden won....

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  20. Doink

    Please release the internals by party, age and region... did a lot more Republicans watch the debate than Democrats?

    CBS has Biden winning 50-31 amongst their survey of undecided voters

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  21. Missgrace

    Ryan once again refused to explain how the tax cuts would work and then argued for staying in Afghanistan, starting a war over Syria and making abortion illegal. This woman voter says no. Biden totally schooled Ryan.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  22. Anthony

    Way to go Ryan. Keep the ball rolling. Romney/Ryan 2012!

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  23. cvayer

    take this poll down...watever

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  24. Dave

    Really? Ryan showed he is so not vice-presidential. He makes Palin look smart.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  25. PDGTony

    I think Biden did a great job overall including substance and aggressiveness. His performance will energize the base.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
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