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. For The Love Of Truth

    The truth is always hard to accept, but facts are facts. Joe Biden has seen and been around for over three decades of presidential policies. He has stood before us and told us exactly where we are headed with a Romney/Ryan ticket. If the middle class fall for the Romney/Ryan ticket, then you deserve what you get.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  2. Janegrace

    Your debate coverage was like my mother's favorite Fox news. I used to really enjoy CNN, but moved to MSNBC. I have heard on other blogs CNN has become more like Fox news. I hope one day you return from the leaning right.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  3. WHAT DID IT LOOK LIKE

    I am VERY disappointed in this debate. I was hoping to hear both candidates responses. I was looking for serious commentary. I liked Joe Biden until he came out looking unhinged and a loose cannon. We are in terrible straits in our country and around the world. Even our VP MUST be presidential. He did not help our cause and our hopes. I can't remember what VP BIDEN said because he FINALLY tipped the scale with his disgraceful actions and remarks. Now, I THANKFUL to see that even though Paul Ryan is a serious-minded man with dignity and thoughtful plans. I am so sorry that my VP acted out. This is the only thing I can think about now, rather than the opportunity to have a substantive discussion.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  4. rmurray614

    Shame on you CNN! This poll is a joke. I'm going to MSNBC where my polling vote actually counts.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  5. Shame on Biden!

    I find it shameful that Biden found so much humor with so many grave and serious issues. He embarrassed himself and the rest of our party!

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  6. Helen Robinson

    It was so embarassing to know people from all around the world were watching the vice-president of the U.S. behave like a terrible child.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  7. Anonymous

    ryan all the way.. for the only reason im not happy on the status of america right now.. lets go for change

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  8. Jeev

    Biden didnt win the debate, he was disrespectful and a liar and no record to back him up. He kept on laughing because their records will not back what they are talking about. Biden /Obama blamed Bush for the economy but Obama is the curreent president for 4 yrs now . Romney is the challenger. Dont you know that people laugh when they are hiding something? That is a sign of hiding or evading a difficult situation or unanswered questions

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  9. Rosario58

    Romney and Ryan are great examples of dignified well mannered men who have and display the class if takes to hold the office of these two important positions. I felt this way before but especially after seeing the display of how Obama and Biden conducted themselves on these two debates is disgraceful, the world no longer looks at the United States as exemplatory, we are being laughed at. Romney and Ryan can put the United States back where President Reagan had us, Romney is similar to Reagan as well, he speaks from the heart and displays integrity something that is lacking from this administration.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  10. Del

    Two adults in my house and both agreed that Biden definitely, resoundingly won. Good job, Joe. You made all of us who aren't biased proud, too.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  11. Anonymous

    CNN playing games ....... Go to cnbc Biden 53 and Ryan 43 percentage, more than 100000 voters voted on cnbc.com .....not like CNN s 381 voters

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  12. missmeyet0420

    If I would've been polled I would've picked Biden, but like the other 30 million people following Obama on facebook, I'm busy following the discussion of how great a job Biden did. I don't have time for CNN and its obviously skewed poll. I cannot keep up with all the comments. By the way Romney has 9 million followers to Obama's 30 million and Ryan is even less popular with 4 million followers. Really CNN?

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  13. bertha

    cnn who are you polling, what was they hearing. i guess i have to find another station that is not for one but all. Biden won.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  14. Cindy

    Biden without a doubt.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  15. Denise

    Why is everyone talking about Biden's facial expressions and no one mentions the smirk Ryan had on his face most of the time Biden was talking?? Can't believe anyone really thinks Ryan won. I thought Martha did a pretty good job as mediator.

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  16. Akron

    Are they polling independents? Regardless of who actually "won", republican and democrats are going to say their guy won. So its a matter of which party gets polled the most.

    I'd really want to know what independents thought. Were they actually swayed by the guy who spewed the least amount of BS or which one was more charismatic?

    October 12, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  17. George Mortensen

    Tonight the Vice President of the US lied to the American people three times. First he claimed he fought against going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did not. He voted to authorize both wars. He also stated the people assigned to Libya did not request additional security. The two people on the ground in Libya in charge of security testified before Congress yesterday they requested more security and were denied them. Is that a win? How many lies are Obama supporters willing to swallow?

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  18. childonias

    Biden was the clear winner on both style and substance. Ryan avoided the Republican true position, like what loopholes they are going to close because they do not want to alienate anyone or have anyone question them on specifics. Romney said as much before, why he avoids being specific. Now their ticket wants it both ways on every issue to confuse voters–this is not being candid, as Biden correctly pointed out. CNN is a cable station, whose viewers tend to be more conservative, which explains why their instant poll goes fro Ryan. CBS used an unbiased sample of undecided voters and 50% picked Biden as the winner.

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  19. Chase

    They only polled 381 people. I'm sorry, but Biden killed it tonight.

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  20. USCav

    Come on folks, Biden was rude and ridiculous, and frankly lost credibility along with the debate. I don't need to check social media to form my viewpoint. Ryan won on both style and substance. Easy call.

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  21. nightsong

    In the past Biden always seemed like a likable guy. After this display of arrogance and bully type disrespect for Ryan my whole view of Biden has changed. He has sadly taken on some of the characteristics of Obama. Biden's smiling and laughing as though he is "above" the seriousness of matters is strikingly disturbing. As vice president of the United States he should never serve his country as being above them or it all, and he would do himself better to appreciate and respect the brilliant mind of his opponent who by the way appears quite serious. Romney/Ryan in a matter of days!

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  22. Devon

    I'm a registered indi and I saw this as a 50-50 split. No clear advancer as both sides made their points. But nothing to move me either way. If Obama stinks out the next debate I'll be forced to go Romney, otherwise I'm still looking.

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  23. TJ in NM

    To Mike in NV who wrote
    "I don't know where you got your responses. Everybody I've talked to that saw the debate (Republicans and Dems) have all said that Biden won. I'm really beginning to question CNN's impartiality. To me, they are beginning to resemble Fox news more and more...such a shame."

    I guess your personal poll Mike isn't very representative then. I'm sure you have 'big numbers' of both republicans and dems that you polled to make your analysis statistically significant. Do you know what it takes to make a sample statistically significant Mike in NV? Just read the other comments in response to this article. Your point doesn't carry much weight or integrity when you widen the sample size now does it demwit.

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  24. Cudjoehead

    Look, this was really no contest. Biden won by a mile

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  25. Jeev

    Biden won? He was laughing all the time. If that is the basis for winning the debate, then hire a comedian or Jim Carrey to do the debate next time

    October 12, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
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