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. LynnEllaInMO

    For me, it was definitely Biden's night all the way. I like his style – don't care if others like it or not. Being a boisterous, smiley lady myself, that is the kind of person I enjoy being around. And, he's got a whole lot more experience than Ryan.

    As a 45 yr old lady, Ryan does NOT speak for me and does not represent my view of Medicare and Social Security and a woman's right to choose and programs that help our children like WIC and Headstart and things I'm against like going to war in Syria or Iran – I'm not a millenial, I'm proud to be Generation X and hope my generation will pull together and defeat Romney/Ryan.

    October 12, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. sammieb51

    Ryan won? Really? Looked like he got his ass handed to him on a plate from where I was sitting.

    October 12, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Baroo00

    Sorry, but Biden looked like the Joker's grandfather. Insane smile, wild gestures, slightly deranged look in his eyes.

    I think both gave their bases what they wanted, but Papa Joker had to scare a lot of undecideds...

    October 12, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. Whocares

    Ryan " Mr. Vice president you of all people should know words don't always come out the right all the time.
    Biden " Yes but I always say what I mean just like Gov Romney about the 47%
    EPIC!!! love love love

    October 12, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Incrediboy

    Sounds like republican bloggers on here. You guys should be outlawed. You lie, cheat, anything to get control to save your greedy wealth. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Our country will go down fast if you dweebs get in. BTW, stay tuned for more American soldier deaths with the next war you'll be getting us into. We had a great country, but your greedy mentality could care less for the middle, or lower class.

    October 12, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. A Republican Canidate


    Joe Biden acted like a spoiled brat. Behaving like that in many public arenas would get a punch in the nose. If interrupting, laughing, guffawing is how you win a debate, wow.

    I agree...he should have done what Obama did...just stand there and let our party's canidates lie to the American public.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. MeMyself&I

    The poll results are definitely WRONG. God knows who those 300+ people were, who picked them and if they even exist. CNN is leaning towards M & R now. You guys know the truth. That kid has no balls to be the next VP or P for that matter. So get real people. The Reps made some bad choices picking those candidates and we have no better option than stay with Obama until a better person comes along.

    October 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Julie

    Biden is an embarrassment. The fact he and his stammering partner Obama is running this country is astounding! WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!

    October 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. fwdnotbackwd

    Hey CNN, did you raid Fox News' data base for your poll? Next time, how about a larger, INDEPENDENT/UNDECIDED sample group with a longer time frame to develop reaction–before you create an intractible banner headline declaring who won? It's as if you called Elmer's family in Backwoods, TN, got his pro-GOP view, and ran with it as your story before the debate was complete. Totally irresponsible!

    Most informed and objective people I know said Biden easily had the upper hand in this debate

    October 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. gordy

    Loved Joe Biden, body language was sincere. Joe Biden won debate

    October 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. MEBS

    It's official, Biden has finally crossed from the left side to the "Far Side"!

    October 12, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. Shakingmyhead

    Is anyone else shaking their head and wondering how in a country with over 314 million people, we only realistically have only two choices: A). re-elect President Obama, or B). Elect Mitt Romney to replace President Obama? Trying not to be dis-respectful of either candidate, is this REALLY the best we can offer out of 314 million people? Reading through the other posts, why waste time calling people names, trying to play the 'race card', or trading insults (you're candidate was rude to the President, so our VP candidate was rude back to your candidate) – really? There is a more serious fundamental question we should all want to resolve – why don't more people who could be REALLY good candidates and REALLY qualified to lead this nation not even try to be President? Used to be, little kids wanted to be President when they grew up – not anymore. Why? Are we less patriotic? Don't want to go through that level of scrutiny? Doesn't pay enough (although I hear they have a solid benefits package!)? Realize that unless you are a politician, you aren't going to get anything done, anyway? Or is it that we just really don't care anymore? I don't know the answer, but I think those are valid questions? How about you?

    October 12, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Guest

    Anonymous you're kidding right? You can't be rude to an inanimate object, much as POTUS was in his first debate. You should know what you're talking about also, before you post a knee jerk reaction. Politics is a dirty game as most grownups know all to well.

    October 12, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. susie williams

    where were the rules of good conduct in last nights VP debate ? biden was so rude and disrespectful that I lost interest in anything he had to say. election or not our VP should never behave so ill.mannered, rude . is this the example we want to see for our children / grandchildren ? shame on him for a sickening performance .

    October 12, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Sherri

    Do these debates really cause anyone to change their vote? Can't see how they would. But it is funny that Ryan cannot give specifics when asked. Just keeps hemming and hawing. And the lying! My god. How he lies. Directly contradicts things his partner has been saying for years. Very funny.

    October 12, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Lulwhut

    Where they watching the same debate? Every time Ryan tried to talk Biden took what he was saying and bodyslammed it with facts and reality.

    The only thing this poll proves, is that the Republican party is so invested in looking like they are winning despite sitting on a sinking ship that they will astroturf polls.

    October 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. D. J.

    Dear Reporters,
    We all need to take responsibility for the words we use and say.The person to have the last say in this election will be
    the Lord. We have to remember God created this world, and he will give us a President. No matter what we say or do
    we can't do anything without him.
    Thank you

    October 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Maxright


    October 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Eddie

    If we base the debate off being a bully...then Obama won the last debate. Obama gave more details, and had the same personality Ryan did. Many said Obama was passive, and out of it. Romney was mouthy, and seemed have lots of anxiety...yet we say he won! I have a feeling no matter what Obama/Biden does...the people won't be happy. They want to see another Bush/Cheney meltdown. The voters admit that Bush ran the economy into the ground...yet they gave him a 2nd term. Obama seems to have at least have a grip on the market, housing crisis, and the unemployment rate...and it's not good enough. I guarantee that Romney/Ryan will blame Obama/Biden in four years...and somehow they will be given a 2nd term.

    October 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. krehator

    booo hoooo. Always some republican whining about how CNN is not fair. Who is more fair, Fox news????? You whine like a liberal!!!

    October 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Jeff

    I don't know what debate the CNN poll takers watched. Joe slapped him down.

    October 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. ss12343

    CNN is in a sad state where they want to play the middle-groud of politics, but most of the country is polarized and prefer Fox and MSNBC over CNN. I think Biden did well without any gaffes and Ryan proved he is no Palin. The debate is pretty much a tie IMO.

    October 12, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. ◄T102

    It's is clear that Ryan and the Republicans don't want to "reveal" their cuts to the budget. Romney / Ryan know the American public won't go for the draconian cuts to services that include Medicare for seniors, Education, Food stamps for children , etc.all while giving Millionaires and Billionaire a tax break so they can get richer.

    The American people really do have a clear choice. Vote Republican if you want the top 2%, millionaire and billionaires, to get richer while the other 98% have to endure drastic cuts to services that could mean a matter of life and death.

    October 12, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. bill

    What is it about the GOP that they flat out refuse to offer policy specifics in regards to their budget/economic plan? Is it because they have no real plan? Is it because they intend to use the same failed trickle down economics of which America is still suffering from? Or is it because they do not want to disclose specifics because they intend to eliminate and slash programs of people they need the votes from?

    October 12, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. harry

    This Romney ,Rayn need to learn to say Truth to Media and Voters in this election debate.These two can not be trusted as times comes closer to election both are Flip Flop in their reply for important issues.Romney is Job KILLER and how he can say that will create 12 mil. Jobs? Do not trust this guy. Is he out of his mind to say like this when he is hiding his millions in Swiss bank and Island bank accounts.??

    October 12, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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