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. Kelvin

    Its not surprising that CNN came out with this FALSE POLLS.... It's disguising and biased.... Everybody knows very clearly that JOE BIDEN WON THE DEBATE.....

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  2. henry

    I felt it was very clear VP Joe Biden won the debate! I wonder where did you get this numbers.
    Are we talking about the VP debate? For the most part Ryan was on the defensive

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  3. carl j

    Biden displayed the same arrogance that BO did in his debate, just loud and obnoxious. He pleaded ignorance. A liar can not get comfortable when on the spot, thus the yelling, smirking, interruptions, condescension and waggery.

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  4. Michael

    saying that Ryan was "man-handled" is rather ignorant. the debate was by no means one sided. Biden came out like Romney did, aggressive. Ryan, however, stayed calm, cool, and collected where Obama looked like a child who was not prepared to talk in front of the class. They both addressed the issues as thoroughly as they could, and stand by everything that they said; however, while i enjoy a good debate and i don't feel that it should be a buddy-buddy environment, i feel that Biden came off as a bit disrespectful. he continuously laughed at Ryan as he spoke. he continuously interrupted Ryan as he spoke. and he mocked Ryan from time to time. Romney may have interrupted the moderator, but he didn't interrupt the president. the point is, there is a difference between being aggressive and disrespectful, and Biden crossed the disrespectful line tonight.

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  5. heydebster

    I must have been one of those 47% that wasn't contacted, because Biden won.

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  6. Michelle

    Biden so won!!

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  7. jilliangood

    Worst debate moderator EVER!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  8. cknight91

    Have you guys thought that maybe this poll was conducted on undecided / independent voters? Biden did a great job at energizing the liberal base, but he was rude, interrupted constantly and not presidential at all in my opinion. And no, Romney did NOT do the same thing in the first debate. He did what Biden tried to do, but in a much more professional and respectful manner.

    Biden did a disservice to the Obama ticket because his performance is not going to go over well with independents and woman, whom are currently the critical demographic to appeal to in this close race.

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  9. babawawa

    For all those who think Biden won, take responsibility for the lack of courteous discourse and the dumbing down of America. Biden is an embarrassment. His behavior was disgusting. Just what the heck was so funny? After tonight, I'm voting for Romney.

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  10. riquin

    Biden made me feel uncomfortable
    with his mannerisms. This is important we have many people without jobs and he laughs
    all the time. No wonder we have a big problem here. !!! Obama was serious about
    it!!! Wrong VP person!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  11. Elsie

    Joe looked like a clown, talked like an idiot. And lied like a rug. Netenyahu was a big lie. I bet Bebe hates him. Rude, condescending, and he had the moderator on his side.

    October 12, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  12. The real deal

    I hate Anderson for his witch hunt on Libya. Who is paying you dude? Be fair. At least try to be fair.

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  13. nina

    I'm beginning to wonder myself whether CNN is now more right wing than centre......why is it that mitt gets viewed as winning for his rude, abrasive behaviour & disrespect towards the moderator and unwillingness to actually answer questions or provide specifics.....and Biden plays offense....states facts & calls Ryan out for...again,,wait for it...yup you guessed....non specifics and somehow because Biden took charge of the debate,,,he's going to be scrutinized on his demeanor? Really? And by the way.....BIDEN WON BY A LONG SHOT as most polls, except CNN, are citing.....even your own home page, CNN which has a vote button for who won, so far indicates Biden 65 to Ryan's 31???? Joe came out strong and actually called Ryan out for the inconsistencies....and on foreign policy....Ryan appeared to get stuck on 1 talking point, repeated part of what Biden said.....and again, could not cite what he & romney would do differently....actually suggesting war in Libeya than back tracking....way to go Biden!!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  14. McKinley Harris

    Biden won by a landslide. Ryan's a real flip flopper and I wouldn't trust him or his running mate. What's he upset about he wouldn't be taxed more he's not one of the 3%. You really have to watch these guys who aren't effected negatively and still push that position. They are wantabees and will do anything for a buck

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

    With all due respect to your panel of experts (which are clearly Democrats), what about manners? Is talking over the other person an acceptable behavior for a well educated VP with a life career in politics?

    What about the constant laughing... ? What's the reason to laugh? The economy or the Benghazi situation?

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  16. linda

    Sorry people the poll is right Ryan won, u can't just laugh and be rude if u want to win a debate. BIDEN LOST

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  17. M Pucket

    I listened to it on my car radio, at the time thought no one won, it was a tie. Then watched it when I got home and thought Biden was acting strange and creepy. Seriously, what was his deal?

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  18. john1451

    Biden laughing about a US Ambassador, 4 Americans, and a embassy security officer murdered in Libya sealed my vote for Romney/Ryan 2012.

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  19. Walt

    If you are part of the democrat base, you saw a victory for Biden and this fired you up. You can't believe anyone could believe otherwise.

    If you are part of the republican base, you saw an aggressively condescending, arrogant Biden embarrass himself, insist he has done everything right, and essentially act like an embarrassing drunk, leaving a calm and bemused Ryan to reassure voters that the Ryan/Romney team has a different, non-radical vision. You can't believe anyone would believe otherwise.

    If you are independent, you thought Biden was smirky, rude, and condescending but spoke the truth as he saw it, and Ryan was analytical and informed.

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  20. Meritha

    No way... Biden won this debate!!

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  21. Viejo Pinpino

    With all due respect to your panel of experts (which are clearly Democrats), what about manners? Is talking over the other person an acceptable behavior for a well educated VP with a life career in politics?

    What about the constant laughing... ? What's the reason to laugh? The economy or the Benghazi situation?

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  22. Sharen Rumberger

    In 2008 I voted for Obama. I just changed my affiliation to the Republican Party. After Romneys debate, I felt I made the right decision. After tonight's debate, I might vote Democrat. 50/50. I hope the final presidential debate makes the decision for me!

    October 12, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  23. Glen

    CNN I’m sure what channel you were watching or were you got your poll but Biden won that debate. So much so that If I was undecided before, Biden without a doubt showed me tonight who to veto for this election.

    Obama / Biden 2012

    October 12, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  24. Mimi

    CNN, I don't know where you guys are getting your stats but it's as delusional as Faux News. Biden clearly won that debate.

    October 12, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  25. Jose

    Your poll seems skewed. Not only did you oversample republicans but I'm amazed that your polling company really think that 381 phone respondents are a large enough sample size to claim (as 99% of the people who read this article think) that the American people who saw this debate (50 million plus?) favored Ryan by a margin of 4%? FYI: everyone ignores the sampling error, and the sampling size. You can qualify this in the fine print as much as you would like but this is a real hack job and the responsible person at CNN should be ashamed.

    October 12, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
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