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. Tree hugger

    CNN, stop being tools for the GOP and start reporting real news. I watched the debate and I have seen the reaction in social media... Biden crushed Ryan like a sack of eggs. yea he was rude, but he did call Ryan on his BS. people feel Biden won. you guys faking news or what?

    October 12, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  2. ghbratton

    Prov. 29:9 New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.

    October 12, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  3. Autoamerican

    Joe Biden:

    Page 114, "Rules for Radicals" – – ".....when all else fails, and when your opponent has the upper hand, ridicule your target. Ridicule him and do not let him get his point across"

    Axelslob, Van Hollen and the rest of the filthy Chicago machine trained him well for this debate.

    October 12, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  4. Daddy tang

    Romney/ryan proof that idiocracy is actually happening. The fact that anyone would believe ryan won this is insanity. Its like watching Bush and thinking why did people vote for this challenged individual. 8 Years, two wars, mounting debt, and you want to return to Bush era thinking. Btw Rupert. You suck. Cnn the new faux. Take your pole and suck it...

    October 12, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  5. Deb

    Biden all the way. The same folks that said Biden was rude said Romney was aggressive. Biden was aggressive and knew what he was talking about. Ryan needs to study if he's going to talk about the Middle East. And good grief – is Ryan's religion going to direct our country. Women should be able to choose and nobody should have a vote on that.

    October 12, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I think the best part about America is that the goverment is not the superpower. More people will inovate more people will flourish if we continue on this path. I liked how Ryan continually was able to bring out the fact that with Obama's/Bidens administration we were straying from this path and giving more of our decisions over to the goverment and a small selected panal to make these decisions for us.

    October 12, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  7. horklet

    Biden beat Rand like a bad dog.

    October 12, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  8. NoBama Soon

    I wish Ryan would have started the debate as Biden did the last time, commenting on how bad and outrageous the price of gas was. Biden complained that it was $3.15.... then again, the media was all over the price of gas then when it was a Republican President. Just crickets now at $4.00 for some reason.....

    October 12, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  9. Lisa

    Ok. Wait a minute. They are saying that Biden got a lower rating because he was too focused on attacking his opponent. Wasn't it just a week ago that Romney spent nearly the entire debate attacking Obama and yet they say he won the debate. This doesn't make any sense. Do your job right journalists!!

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  10. Lenny Pincus

    Ryan was entirely out of his depth on foreign policy. His Afghanistan positions were childlike.

    After watching Romney bluster his way through the debate last week, it's always fun to here the Republicans complain about proper behavior.

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  11. jim

    Amtrak Joe hit a home run

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  12. science101

    CNN as been a corporate propaganda machine for over a decade. I remember Wolf Blitzers pronouncement that G W Bush beat Al Gore (!) in their first debate – what utter nonsense.

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  13. Jasontu04

    Ryan was not straightforward and elusive when pinned, I really doubt what positions Romney and Ryan meant what they will do. They just want our votes and will say anything.....

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  14. Pksr

    Bidden was rude, condecending, interupted Mr Ryan. Vp Biden was unsettleing as he smiled and muttered oddly inappropriate times, because if this do not feel comfortable voting for him as a potentialfuture vp or president.

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  15. Mike Buck

    It really is not a question of who won. It was a good debate. Ryan and Romney are now running toward the middle to try and get elected. If you want to know what they really believe, go to the GOP Party website and look at the party platform. God, Guns, Gays, Gynecology, and tax breaks for the rich. If tax breaks and deregulation worked, we would be in an economic boom right now.

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  16. ouisee

    Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen do not take your boots off. Your new president Romney and his VP Ryan wants to improve the economy of the US. They are going to start another war and we have not even cleaned up George’s Bush mess yet. Make them accountable and pledge that they will not. If we the people do not stand up for what we know is right, the right wing will fly you off to another wasteful use of our young men. Do not let them get into the White House without this pledge. They owe the American public the truth.

    October 12, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  17. Saffrondog

    You go Joe.
    President Ryan? God forbid!

    October 12, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  18. uvex

    I find it hard to choose a winner, when both sides call each other liars on every point made. I guess they are both liars.

    October 12, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  19. mondorbn

    Biden did exactly what Romney did, and was just as "polite". Ryan looked like a schoolboy facing the former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

    October 12, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  20. science101

    Ryan looked like a surly teenager.

    October 12, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  21. Michelle

    And you're wondering why you are losing viewers! Joe Biden won, just like Romney won the last debate. CNN you are about to be marginalized as a non factor soon.

    October 12, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  22. Carla

    Still undecided voter – although Biden may have "won" the debate tonight – I am much less likely to vote for the Obama/Biden ticket based on Bidens behavior alone. Waiting to make final decision until after next presidential debate -

    October 12, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  23. Dgmartin

    How can this even be considered a close debate, or that Biden won convincingly? He was a grumpy old man, constantly interrupting Ryan, playing up the usual rhetoric cards, and scowling and laughing like a baffoon the whole time. He even started making up numbers when he got flustered.

    "...Two Million-Billion Dollars..." yeah that's a great guy to have as the potential president if something were to happen to Obama. Paul was strong in this debate. Biden came across as bitter and flustered. Anyone that couldn't recognized how much of a loss for words Biden was in wasn't actually listening to the debate

    October 12, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  24. Stan

    So frustrating. No wonder our country is doomed. We can't even debate reality. For example, the "official" unemployment number the government is using is 7.8%. They arrive at that number by dropping people from the workforce alltogether because they've "given up" looking for work. They're still alive, still need a job but they "don't count" anymore. We can't get anything done because we can't even admit what reality is anymore. $16 trillion of debt, millions out of work, money being printed like Monopoly money, a government hell bent on taking over private industry and a constant stream of lies from the media. Oh and don't forget 30 million innocent babies murdered in the womb in the name of "choice". We are screwed!

    October 12, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  25. Old Dem

    I'm and old Dem and Biden is mentally unstable to be VP or P. By Biden's antics he was unable to get the message across that things are improving. Biden was an embarrassment not only to America but can you think what Al Qaeda is thinking? Please place extra guards around our President. Biden as President would a a disaster the world has never known. To the Israelis; it looks like your on your own; sorry!

    October 12, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
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