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. Pacific Moderate

    Ryan was competent and did OK, but was constrained by having to defend Romney's lies and flip-flops. Biden was in better command of the facts and related more of an understanding of how the economy is affecting the working and middle classes. I have to give this one to Biden.

    October 12, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  2. XYZ

    Who is Joe Biden? Never heard of him.

    October 12, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  3. Fritz

    Ryan is an intellectual. Shame America is too ignorant anymore to appreciate that quality. Scary to think we are all at Biden's le el!

    October 12, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  4. shawn lenglet Rama Ont Canada

    hi there I saw the VP Debate and the winner was Joe Biden he was on his A game and showed he is the right man for the job .Ryan was ok but he is not up to the job . Maybe he will be good next time. Cnn I think you should watch the debate again b/c the polls you guy put are not right.

    October 12, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  5. Dr. E

    I wouldn't declare Ryan the winner of tonight's debate with only 381 respondents. The population of the US was 311,591,917 in 2011 (US Census Bureau). This means that CNN contacted less than .00012% of the population to derive who the winner was. Clearly the results from other polls illustrate that the margin of error in this study is off!

    October 12, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  6. Darren

    Biden just seemed like a cranky old man. If there was a pokin' stick around for him to grab, he'd be swingin' it over his head.

    October 12, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  7. go_usa

    Biden was soooo obnoxious

    October 12, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  8. hhammon

    Biden lied straight to the American peoples faces. He was also the rudest, most condescending jerk I have ever seen in a debate. Then add in the fact that he didn't make sense half the time. You end up with a sure knowledge that America has the most incompetent POTUS & VPOTUS in our history.

    October 12, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  9. snead

    Good grief. Substance is officially beside the point, republicans will win, the corporations will rule, and the earth will cook. Glad I didn't have kids.

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  10. Matt Cipollini

    Any objective, serious-minded, sober person would admit that Biden schooled the kid tonight. Period.

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  11. louicro

    cnn's "neutrality" , this reflects on the tumor you have in journalism in the us. Right after the debate, i'm european and pretty fair at judging, wolf blitzer said straight away, the debate was a draw. As a journalist this is a biaised oppinion and is unasked for. Ask the opinion of the guests, but remain impartial. THat is journalism. Now cnn's view is is in majority republican, at least by the consequence of your actions. Probably because Obama is black, and you earn over 250K ? Anyway cnn is worse than fox, because you do it with intend to deceive, on a more (but little) intellectual level. Shame on you cnn.

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  12. Painless Kolob extraction for FREE

    "Biden schooled Ryan"
    Well played.

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  13. Nekke Wright

    Okay So Why Are People So Worried About How Joe Biden Reacted Out There So Freaking What just Because Ryan Was Calm Doesnt Mean Nothing To Me, He Didnt Get None of His Points Across To Me, Joe Biden pretty much Did. And Ryan Seemed A little nervous because everytime Biden said something that was effective or what ryan knew what was true he always took a sip of water. But I bet nobody Noticed That Right. People Need To Stop Focusing On The Little Stuff And Focus On The Major Stuff

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  14. bebe

    Ryan certainly seem to have a MUCH higher IQ and was not rude unlike SOME people~ I was planning on not voting but in light of the debates ... I am going to vote for Ryan! he is cute~!!

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  15. michael gardner

    The stench of Pres. Obama and Bidens desperation is heavy in the air! Somebody get crazy joe some Aricep for his alzheimer ASAP!

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  16. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    am watching this now on my DVR, and Ryan is way outgunned and in over his head.

    October 12, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  17. fensel

    "More Republicans in the poll than the national average"

    Really CNN? Any credibility?

    October 12, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  18. indy

    Biden was rude, laughing, and interrupting. Did not look good. How many "Umms" did he say? I lost track after 30 seconds......

    October 12, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  19. marco jazz

    looks to me that,Ryan won this hands down,

    Biden was drunk or he needs a real good doctor, he is not well!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  20. Man

    CNN got it right, but I believe the numbers were not that close. Ryan won it on substance, specifics, and reasonable answers. Biden lost it on demagoguery, talking points, and lack of manners.

    October 12, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Biden was good. Ryan too mechanical

    October 12, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  22. Bonita

    Biden was tough, compassionate and head and shoulders above the purported Republican boy wonder- ( a boy who, ly, shouldn't be VP , in congress or in public service at all if he can't directly answer a question... talk about rude and insulting to to audience and the moderator..... Better luck next time Ryan.....

    October 12, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  23. zq

    Biden won this debate, obviously. CNN is so far in the tank for Romney it is ridiculous, just like their land line polling. Maybe CNN wants the election to be close so they get better ratings, but it'd be nice if there was a shred of journalistic integrity there. Oh well, when President Romney endorses Fox News as the nation's only news source and imprisons all other journalists for not being patriotic enough, I'll laugh at you CNN.

    October 12, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  24. Devin

    Joe Biden agrees personally with the Catholic Church that life begins at conception, but does not feel it's his place to question or repeal legislation that allows for the ending of that human life? That is moral and ethical insanity.

    October 12, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  25. lulu

    Why i hell Rayn wins this debate ? who r this sample voters ? the CNN emplyoees ? How bizzare ?

    October 12, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
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