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. zandhcats

    I watched PBS, even David Brooke said Biden is better,same as CBS,NBC but the latter two also added that the facial expressions of Biden may lose credibilities which I don't really care, if Romney/Ryan can lie w/o blinking their eyes, making some face is acceptable. The difference between two persons tonight is: Biden could delivery the debate fluently with his actual experience, while Ran lied with earnest manner.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  2. Wes

    Draw......but VP looked bad with constant interrupting and challenging moderator.....Democratic ticket performed much better than last week.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  3. diane13579

    Biden, the clear winner. My, my, some people don't like it when the Dems fight back from the GOP spin machine.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  4. debbieinalaska

    can't imagine ryan being vice president, or president-too young and inexperienced-the only thing scarier was when Palin was nominated.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  5. Carey

    The CNN poll is a statistical tie. It is a small sample (381) and the margin of error (5 points) is larger than the Ryan 4 pt lead.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  6. russ2012

    I have voted democrat in presidential elections since Reagan-Carter in 1980. I have truly lost my faith in president Obama.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. Evan

    I guess my math is now outdated but 48% is a greater than 44%. It was not a tie and independents like me think our VP should learn some manners.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  8. Tim

    why on EARTH are you sampling more REpubs than Dem,s and then publshing this poll as 'news'? CNN, youre hopeless, never watching you again... just unbelievable fail ...

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  9. User-301

    Well, we all know the truth – It wasn't even close that Biden clearly took the upper hand from the start and never gave it up. It was expected. Poor Ryan was prepped with lies so what could you expect. He delivered well for the material they gave him. I actually felt sorry for the young man. He's trying to refer to the past with Regan based on what they told him only to find out that Biden was in the very meeting with Regan. He never answered the question about what you would tell the wounded soldier. It was almost like Biden was simply giving the young man a lesson on real politics and political history. Anyone that says Ryan won this debate is just feeling sorry for him as I did. We all know the truth.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  10. SmilinJoe

    Joe was rude and condescending and, frankly, weird. Sad for the Democrats, but I suspect that Ryan stole some of the youth vote tonight.

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  11. Jo Anne

    There was no debate here. ABC was supposed to keep this together. The 2 minute rule was bogus. If anyone believes that Joe Biden or the Democrats won anything by his silly, inappropriate smiles and inexcusable hogging of time , not to mention his belligerance they are delusional. Biden was obviously taking his orders from his boss and trying to make up for that ones less than inspiring performance during the presidential debate. You will not win by intimidation nor will you win friends or influence voters with foolish behavior and childishness.

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  12. Gregory

    What planet are you on. Biden won hands down!

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  13. Freedom

    Joe Biden was arrogant, rude and looked like a fool who babbled incoherently. So what if he has been in government since Abraham Lincoln. He is out of touch and needs to go...along with his worthless good for nothing boss.

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  14. Bless2012

    CNN needs to watch some BBC News LOL

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  15. lyn

    Wake up America tonight we learn from Ryan that if they win the white house they will take us back to WAR, I don't think the American people ready for another WAR. President Obama said that he will end the War in 2014, We trust our President and will be moving forward with him.

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  16. dad

    We all know Biden won!

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  17. Ashkan Alborzian

    Umm... Hello, you have a nearly 70 year old man forgetting his manners, and that's supposed to be your country's VP? So sad for Americans. Really, I don't know much about American politics (democrat or Republican) but I do know something about characters and that of the old man was shameful for a nation. Which was your democrat and which was your Republican? I don't know but the young guy was a better leader if you ask a European!

    October 12, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  18. Bryan

    Biden won tonight's debate and decisively articulated how the Obama-Biden administration's policies are better for America, then the failed recycled Bush plans of the past...

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  19. xjarhead

    Biden's behavior was an example of why nothing gets done in Washington.

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  20. John M

    Clearly Paul Ryan won the night. Biden looked and sounded ridculous. That's what happens when you can't talk about your track record. He should be searching the want ads for a new job!

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  21. debatinggranny

    VP Biden disappointed me. What made him so disrespectful? His demeanor made me uncomfortable. And his answers about Lybia make me think there are too many questions than answers.

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  22. Nguvu

    Of course Biden won this one!

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  23. Anonymous

    CNN poll results lately are only as believable as Romn!ey and Ryan!

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  24. will

    There you go America !A young man with a lot of ideas!And he thinks they are right! Wow!The republicans will cut social security!Promise!Your voucher gonna go really well in the open market for insurance !Banks will be deregulated!Don't decide to get an abortion ,you would be breaking the law!And most of all you give them in congress the right to do anything they want! Oh crap that makes me the 47%!!!! Way to go Biden ! You are a real person and straight forward! I think there need to be an investigation on congress and thier personal agenda !Oh yea I work in the oilfield and I'm pro-life! Obama might not be perfect! But he is better than the alternative!

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  25. iluvamerica

    Biden does not even have a sense on how to talk on debate. Such a disrespectful vice president. I am not sure he does not get chance to talk in 4 yrs. I still like obama abit but trust me i just want to kick out Biden. I felt he had no control over his behavior even after Ryan showed him a boot. He took more time then Ryan to talk about policies and still kept interrupting.
    Biden sucks big time. I hate him more after today's debate. He has no sense at all.

    October 12, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
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