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. DRJ1032

    If winning is not getting steam rolled like Obama, then Biden "won". He seemed to mysteriously forget that he voted for both wars.

    October 12, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. RobinMcc

    Ryan won on issues. Biden acted like a juvenile.

    October 12, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  3. What does "Mitt" Stand For? (Get it?)

    CNN is getting weird. I wonder if they are purposely trying to lean right. More advertising money?

    Everyone I spoke to said Biden won big. He stood up to Ryan's lies and misleading statements.

    October 12, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  4. Woman In California

    I only use CNN's website for blogging, I don't use them for anything else because they are always too negative about Obama and Biden and I resent it. MSNBC all the way.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  5. Seth

    CNN always over-sample Republicans and when they say Independents, they really mean Republican leaning Independents, they admitted that after the Presidential debate, during their panel discussion, where David Gergen challenged them and Wolf and John King admitted that they over-sample Republicans.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  6. Mark

    So Joe Biden was rude and combative? Good! That's a quality I want in my leaders, and I admire Biden for acting like one.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  7. 66Biker

    I think Paul Ryan came off as the right wingnut poster boy that he is. Joe Biden called him his friend, then handed him his head.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  8. Mollie

    Biden's smirky smile and facial expressions made him look like a kid in middle school instead of a vice president. Ryan was clearly a much better representative for the USA.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  9. Kevin

    I didn't see a clear winner. I did feel that Biden's continued interrupting and unwillingness to let Paul Ryan answer hurt Biden more than helped him. He behaved more like a "heckler" than a Vice President tonight. Biden portrayed the democratic party message as arrogant, non-partisan and rude.

    One couldn't help but think that Biden's incessant laughing / smirking about issues near and dear to most Americans was born out of nervousness / desperation after Obama's poor performance against Romney.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  10. Jon

    Ryan made the Republicans proud. Biden didn't help the Dems cause and I thought was disrespectful at times.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  11. Cnn resembling Fox news

    I have been thinking this for a while, but after tonight completely agree with Mike in NV, and most of the responses here.
    Biden clearly won, your numbers are suspect.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  12. Suzanne

    Since this is an either or question it fits a Possion distrbution therefor if the error was -+ 5% you only asked 400 people. ! That's hardly all the voters who watched the debate. Explain your stastistics or we will feel that this is a meaningless misleading bit of poor journisim.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  13. tn

    Got tireed of watching Biden's laugh & the interrupttions. Nothing professional about that.

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  14. joey

    I am a conservative in Ohio ; Biden won on substance tonight

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  15. Raena72

    It's funnyhow Pres. Obama can be respectful and is criticized. Ryan does it and he's presdenial. Romney canbe rude, disruptive and aggressve and he wins debate on style?? Biden does it and he is rude and look foolish. WOW!

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  16. custerman

    as a republican, I think Joe did well, far exceeding my expectations. However, the smiling and laughing, the disrespect he showed to the younger combatant I think made him look condescending, perhaps trying too hard to make up for his boss's bad showing last week. Won't change my mind. Go Romney!

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  17. OgiwvWVA

    JOE BIDEN WAS VERY DISRESPECTFUL TO PAUL RYA.N. i was very turned off by his smug grin for most of the debate. He needs to work on his demeanor !

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  18. Houston

    One of the most interesting things I have seen is that, based on the social media, and an unscientific poll of my friends, each parties' candidate won convincingly and the others folks are crazy not to see the obvious. Each group saw a different debate. Obviously a tie and America is truly split .

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  19. robert

    love the hypocrites here. Romney acted same way as biden in the last debate and people called him passionate for acting same way as biden. Man U.S are dumb

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  20. Mack

    CNN polled Fox news lol

    October 12, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  21. Frank

    I thought Biden seemed to have won the overall debate. Having said that; his constant laughing, interrupting, and rude behavior made it hard to respect him as Vice President for me. If you're supposed to be the seasoned vet in this debate, then at least act like it!

    October 12, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  22. russ2012

    I think the debate was close. It did not change who I will vote for. I voted for obama in 2008, but Romney and Ryan have my vote this year. My wallet cannot afford four more years of gallactically bad economic policies.

    October 12, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  23. Israel First Biden

    Biden made it clear that his masters in Israel call the shots on US foreign policy. He knows whose keister to kiss.

    October 12, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  24. Anonymous

    I thought both candidates made good points, but Biden gave the strangest vibe of the two. Really awkward reactions with excessive smiling that seem unwarranted. His agresiveness was good, and I think he got some good shots in on the right wing agenda though. Was it enough to call him a winner??? Honestly I can't say either side won tonight.

    October 12, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  25. conquest

    Did anyone else notice Mr. Biden had no number sense. He would slur between millions and billions. He even said a number was a million billion–that's not a number. Mr. Biden - one billion is 1000 million, or one to put it plainly to you a billion is a much bigger number. You are out of touch with reality and need to retire. And with such display of numbers its only a wonder why such reckless spending has happened during this administration. Let me ask you this if the behavior and mannerisms of Mr. Biden and Mr. Ryan were switched then it would be clear who would have won, but people expect Mr. Biden to act crazy and aloof, so his performance didn't shock anyone. Mr. Biden performance would be better suited for the entertainment industry and not for a leadership role.

    October 12, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
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