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. Libby

    Biden was the most obnoxious ,disrespectful VP ever! He was full of malarky.
    The moderator was ridiculous!! She spent all of her energy testing Ryan while trying to help poor old Joe!!!
    Sad to watch such a 2-1 debate. So lop sided!!!!

    October 12, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  2. The Painless Kolob Master

    I think joe could run for president come 2016

    October 12, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  3. JonInAZ

    Why did Vice-President Biden smile and laugh so much? Well .... every time he looked at Congressman Ryan he was picturing Eddie Munster in his mind! lol

    October 12, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  4. jim smith 1

    Biden has always been a lame brain; the Obama handlers kept him from attending a news conference for the last five months. Then you see him smiling and smirking as though he knows more. Biden is a total jerk; he did not listen courteously to Ryan instead interrupting him repeatedly.

    This debate further solidifies that we need to kick out nobama/biteme and all tax and spend politicians.

    October 12, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  5. PERyan

    Joe Biden was more informed and his information came from direct experience. Paul Ryan was "staged". He debated well but came off as insincere and inexperienced. He made sure to get in those blows like "You demonize the opposition." That comes comes from his deeper character. Biden won and is the better man.

    October 12, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  6. Dan

    One of the pugilists seemed to have overdosed on prozac or something!

    October 12, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  7. psuforever

    th33 – just goes to show you how perception is each person's reality. Biden's expression has been the same throughout his years of service. He has Irish roots, and we tend to smile . . . no matter what. I, personally, like someone who can lighten the conversation with a smile and credible information to back up his optimism. This country is FINALLY get back on track, after 8 devestating years of Republican control.

    October 12, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  8. michael gardner

    When Pres. Obamas senile clown is laughing America is crying. Hope And Shame won't be laughing on election day!

    October 12, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  9. matttttt

    You guys are right a flashpoll on CBS would surely not be biased towards democrats in any way shape or form, Good one.

    October 12, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  10. MontanaTrace

    Biden was rude. He embarrassed me and the country.

    October 12, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  11. GauisCaesar

    Biden won the debate? Huh? Biden was probably the most unprofessional debater in the history of VP debates! He would shake his head at answers even before he heard the answer given, smiled/laughed/chuckled, and interrupted nearly every single answer. After that debate, I don't see how Biden ever survived in Congress!

    October 12, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  12. annonymous

    i am canadian. my 9 yr old grandson all american watched for 10 minuites . asked me why was biden smirking and grinning all the time . he is so young and thought biden was so direspectful...... in his opinion and mine Ryan WON.... smart looked very cool collected and made right comments....how the country should be run

    October 12, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  13. rick johnson

    So Obama's game plan was to fill Slow Joe Biden up with laughing gas. He would laugh and smirk his way through the debate and not commit a serious gaffe, just an outright lie in which he contradicts the State Department.
    36 minutes ago

    October 12, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  14. andrew

    Joe Biden clearly won, I think the voters on this poll just didn't like the few times Joe interrupted... but I don't blame him either, Ryan and Romney love to play with words and sometimes even lie... and it's hard to respectfully debate like that.

    October 12, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  15. Lew Craig

    I have learned two things in the debates. 1. The Democrats can't follow debate rules. Obama talked over 4 min. Longer than Romney. 2. Biden, in a desperate effort to look stronger tonight, was rude, obnoxious and uncivil. I've always liked Biden, but lost a lot of respect for him tonight. The moderators need to take control of these debates as they are out of hand. They should have controlled the time in the first debate and stopped the interruptions in the second.

    October 12, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  16. hphoenix

    Biden by a mile! I have no idea who you polled to get your result, but it's off. You can tell how off by the number of Republican supporters flooding the comment sections on-line to complain and/or refight the debate. Whining = losing.

    October 12, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  17. Lisa

    Joe Biden won this for sure. It was wild to watch Ryan project his party's behavior onto the Dem's. I thought one had to be of sound mind to run for office. Clearly both Mitt and Paul are delusional so...

    October 12, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  18. Sheon1

    No way Ryan won, you have to present facts not stories for answer. Ryan had a story for every question ask tonight. No answers, just tales of people he met, people he talk to, and people he would have love to have met.

    October 12, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  19. Anonymous

    The press in the UK have it as a fairly resounding Biden win. Uncertain as to why Rep supporters see him as having been overly aggressive. By all accounts they loved that in Romney last week when he used it to such good effect? Flip-flopping?

    October 12, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  20. Daniel

    It's funny how dedmocrats believe the polls until they turn against them. Even this poll has it a statistical tie. There were no 'Big Bird' moments in this one and even Biden, though rude, didn't insert foot in mouth in a significant way. I'd say that this debate will not change the polls much if at all.

    October 12, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  21. Triples

    I was offended by the snarky,"I know you're under duress...," said the important congressman to the VP.

    October 12, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  22. Daniel

    *democrats–that was a typo. I'm not much for the play on words for political parties!

    October 12, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  23. fleetwell

    Let me get this straight: Your poll openly admits in the fine print that your poll oversampled Republicans and is therefore skewed towards a Republican bias. Then pray tell, what is the ever-loving point of your "poll"? Biden wiped the floor with Ryan, as anyone with working eyes could see. This is a joke.

    October 12, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  24. J Power

    Coming from a Canadian, I think it was very clear that Biden won, more aggressive, more facts and unlike Obama, Biden interrupted and called him out on falsehoods or anything misleading right away. It may have seemed rude to the prim and proper, but it had to be done. The Romney/Ryan campaign has to be called out on some of the stuff they are claiming, provide some detail like the moderator asked of Ryan multiple times as he danced around it.

    October 12, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  25. Christopher Sterner

    "This poll does not and cannot reflect the views of all Americans..."

    Yes, of course not, Had Biden been the victor by the same margin, only THEN could it have been a true reflection.

    I'm sorry, I have trusted CNN to be a steadfast source of a neutral news source since 2 F/A-18s off the USS George Washington crashed mid-air in the Arabian Sea in 1997/98. I have been decieved for far too long now. This media outlet does everything it can to slant the views of the American public towards the democratic party just like Fox does for the Republican party. You, sirs and madams, have lost your way as an unbiased news outlet. And I for one will rely on you no more.

    October 12, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
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