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. Edwin

    I gotta agree with pretty much everyone here. Biden was aggressive but not mean - he seemed like a fighter to me, someone who would not roll over and let the other side say whatever they wanted.

    I think Ryan sounded a little more charming - but Biden definitely sounded more authentic. I'll take authenticity over charm any day.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  2. me

    I am dreaming. Which debate did they watch? Biden clearly won the debate

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. wallst

    Who is great liar? Romney or Ryan

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  4. Elizabeth

    Yes, Biden won- who on earth did they poll Republicans pretending to be undecided.
    Sorry guys, Biden won this one

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  5. Ricky Jackson

    As usual... Ryan danced around the questions about specifics... I'm glad Biden FINALLY called out the Romney/Ryan campaign for it's "mallarky." They keep changing their policy basics on a daily basis. Biden did what he does and called them out for what and who they are. Good job Joe!!!

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  6. laura

    Ryan won. Biden lost due to his out of control laughing/giggling-He was an embarassment!!

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  7. Nelson

    Joe Biden is an embarrassment to the office of Vice-President. Arrogant, condescending and clearly way out of his intellectual league. If you can't make better points than your opponent just smirk, laugh incoherently, and talk over him. Time to PET scan the VP for Alzheimer's.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  8. Sarah

    Rep. Ryan made a better case for helping the middle class.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  9. Chad

    Just cause someone can blabber on and on doesn't mean you win. Also with Biden interrupting Ryan 85 times does make sense why people believe Ryan won.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  10. Plant City, Florida

    Biden Won.

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

    Biden vs idiotright winger; no contest1

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  12. Amelia

    No way! Biden cleaned his clock tonight! Ryan couldn't back up his talking points with specifics, mostly just repeated the talking points over and over. I'll give Ryan credit for remaining calm (must be all the water he kept drinking), but no mistake about it, Biden was the clear winner tonight. It wasn't even close.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. Sam M

    Amazing! Those that ran this should be handed over to Taliban. When even experts on all channels grudgingly admit that Biden owned this debate these guys run some poll in their household and publish a statistic that makes no sense.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. Damn CNN

    What are you guys talking about. This is why your ratings suck these days. BIDEN NAILED RYAN. Now I know what it looks like to see an old man beat a child.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  15. Joyce

    Poll is wrong, Biden won!!

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  16. WV Gleeman

    It's not independents that voted for Ryan. He lost. Not to say he didn't get to put out his message because he did. Joe just did a better debate performance. I'm waiting for commentator hate to start.

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  17. Glen from Portland, OR

    I thought they both made their point well, but Joe Biden was rude, condescending and disruptive. This is the guy that is a heartbeat away from the Presidency?

    …hold me mommy…I’m scared…

    October 11, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  18. 14 america

    I cant possibly imagine Biden as next in line for the presidency of the United States. It is just straight up scary.

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

    BIDEN won! Ryan went through what sounded like talking point lists "1 through 10" for each subject, I never heard him give any ideas on what he and Romney would do in any situation. Ryan seems to be half boy, somewhat immature in his speech style.

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

    Very odd. I thought Biden did excellent.

    October 11, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  21. This Poll is wrong

    Biden destroyed Ryan! Who are you polling? There was no question to this, Ryan lost

    October 11, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  22. ex-republican

    Great job Biden. OBAMA 2012

    October 11, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  23. NW

    The poll results was a make up. Biden totally killed Ryan tonight!

    October 11, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  24. Lee

    Biden by KO

    October 11, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  25. Bob

    I find it hysterical that some people think Romney won the debate considering we now know everything he said was either a lie or a flip-flop. It's like the jock who takes his final and announces smugly "I aced the test" because he handed in his test first. It looked good for the class, but when professor marks his paper, it turns out he got an 'F' (and even misspelled his name).

    October 11, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
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