October 11th, 2012
11:25 PM ET
9 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. Aaron

    Another CNN flawed poll. Although I don't really like Bidden he clearly won the debate.

    October 12, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  2. magicbeans

    So Biden only won the debate according to uncommitted voters. Ha! All the other polls say Ryan bested Biden. And apparently independent who are very important this election liked Ryan much better. Personally, I thought Biden was embarassing.

    October 12, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. GregK

    @Joy – "I thought Ryan was horrible he was asked very specific questions and could not answer them."

    When the moderator asked Ryan about the issue of loopholes, she drilled him over and over on the issue ("Any specifics?...So, do you have anything in specific?...So, no speicifcs then?"). All because he would not say the exact words "We do not have specifics". He did basically say that by saying he wanted to work out those details in a bi-partisan way.

    When the moderator asked Biden what the Pres would do besides tax the rich more, he did NOT answer. He only repeated his lines about taxing the rich. She did not press that at all. No cutting off, interrupting, interjecting to say, "What else?...So, nothing besides tax the rich?"

    Here is how I saw it overall. Ryan could have been stronger, but did not come across as spineless. He knew his facts and presented them well–though I thought he missed some clear rebuttals to Bidens malarky–and did not come across as a belittling jerk like Biden did.

    October 12, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Shazia

    Biden won the debate and Ryan was on the defensive... god knows who those 381 people were who took your poll...

    October 12, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Warren Jo

    Biden came armed with facts and won the debate hands down. Yes he smirked quite a bit, but thats what any American would have done when debating with short term memory loss opponents.

    Ryan was like a teleprinter and relied more on assumptions. The same assumptions that got all of us into this mess.

    Way to go Biden !! Middle class loves you.

    October 12, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. Larry

    Funny how this post won't make it to be posted...... CNN is moderating what they want on here.
    You folks throwing out all the Democratic malarkey wouldn't know the truth if it hit you in the nose. You have been following this lying born in Kenya President for 3.5 years. If he isn't lying , why are there so many events surrounding him and his life that have no clear answers and why does he hide his college transcripts? Could he be lying about his citizen status to get student loans and getting admissions? Why did he lie about his association with his radical preacher and then disassociate himself with him after having a 15 plus years practice of going to his ".G.......... Dang America church?"


    October 12, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. ColoradoPatriot

    Well, Biden was Biden. He acted so disrespectful and like a "smarty pants". I would never vote for an idiot like that. Just think, they say Biden is the BRAINS of this administration!!!!!

    October 12, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. Sal

    @Cttnc35:If You Want More Taxes & Higher Gas Prices for a properous couintry then Vote For Obama
    You Want Lower Taxes And Lower Gas Prices that takes our country in a sink hole....Vote Romney

    October 12, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  9. John

    Let's have a fact check on Joe Biden's claim that Syria is 5 times larger Lybia, and the case that Joe made regarding that claim.

    October 12, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  10. Indy Pendant

    As a solid independent, Ryan won, Biden LOST. Biden lost mostly because he doesn't take any of this seriously. Dude stop laughing at the issues and at 49% of America.

    October 12, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. magicbeans


    Accept the truth!! Biden won the debate n he showed how powerful the Democratic People are... so dont ever try to blame the party n obviously they are the winners.

    October 12, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |

    The polls disagree. Maybe you should accept the truth or at the very least read the article you are commenting on.

    October 12, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Eric Roy

    Who really cares who won. We have become a society who only votes party line. None of them have a grasp on what really needs to be done. They dont have solutions to the problems and the are all hypocitical Liars.

    October 12, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Aaron000

    Another CNN flawed poll.
    Although I don't really like Bidden he clearly won the debate.

    October 12, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. Gerald Soelz

    Joe Biden, just made a joke out of himself. To act the way he did last night with millions of Americans unemployed and struggling on a daily basis to make a living. He is living the grand life in his Vice Presidential home and traveling first class around the world on our tax payer money. The best he could do last night was to be rude and make a complete fool out of himself. What we need in our Country is leadership and someone who knows common respect and manners. I used to be a Democrat. I voted for Democrats in every election since 1988. However, I will not vote Democrat this year. I am going to vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Our country is not doing well. We were mislead and desperate in the last election. The media needs to do their job by reporting the news and being objective. We do not need to pick favorites. Let the American people decide who is the better candidate for President. The way the media has unfairly took sides and the bias is so sad to see. We our the best country in the world. We have the most freedoms and rights and are blessed to have those things. However, we have lost our basic fabric our country was built around. That is God, honor, and most of all respect for one another. The media in no way fashion or form should reward Biden for being rude. In conclusion our National Debt is getting out of control. We have too many people out of work. The best Biden could do last night was laugh at Ryan and interrupt him while he was trying to answer the questions given to him. That is absolutely wrong. Thank you, Gerald Soelz

    October 12, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  15. CJ

    I am a member of the middle class Mr. Biden and I DON'T TRUST YOU! Show us the JOBS! Show us growth in the Business sector to create those jobs. You had four years – time for a change!

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. selfevolved

    Wow that's a messed up poll. No way Ryan won, not even close. Is this some kind of a joke?

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. ImAVoter

    throwing tempertantrums in the comments on cnn doesnt change the fact taht Ryan won.

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Duke

    “Well, we weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again,” Biden said. Well even if that's true (which it's not), this President should be fired for incompetence. Obama and Biden, what an abject failure.

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. esoteric

    Reading these comments is far more meaningful than the CNN poll. When the rest of country stops relying on multimedia to interpret events, a true leader will be elected.

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. VEW2012

    Lyin' Ryan looked and acted like a slick used car salesman...trying to pass off the same failed policies of the past.

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. Mark

    Key poll fact: CNN concedes it oversampled Republicans. Why would more Republicans be watching the debate? Well, think about the millions of people who were watching pro sports last night – Baseball playoffs: Yankees (heavily populate blue state) vs. Orioles (somewhat heavily populated blue state). Oakland (super heavy populated blue state) vs. Detroit (heavily populated blue state). NFL: Steelers (heavily populated blue state) vs. Tennessee (modestly populated red state).

    Translation: Millions more Dem voters were watching sports instead of the debate.

    Seems to me the CBS poll of uncommitted voters (Biden wins 50-31), also mentioned in this article, tells a more important story than a close poll that oversampled the GOP and was within the margin of error.

    But hey, that's just my opinion.

    October 12, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Steve

    With all due respect, this poll is some malarkey

    October 12, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. Tyrone

    Why is there so much emphasis on how the president will "create" jobs? Jobs are NEVER created by the government. They are always created by the people and the more the government interferes the less friendly wealth-creating environment there is.

    October 12, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. mhp

    last i checked 1/3rd republican is still only 33% compared to 31 % dems and 34% independant.....

    October 12, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. WLF

    Obama/Biden have been there for 4 years, what do they have to show for it? What future plans did he give? Biden acted like a fool, it was a maybe turn off.

    October 12, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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