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. F.L.May SR.

    While Ryan was Edgar Bergan, Joe Biden played Charlie McCarthy. It reminded me of the Old Radio shows only with pictures.

    October 12, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. Kenneth Lee Jones

    I'm gay and could NEVER vote Republican since the party hates me, but I have to admit, Romney and Ryan have a "pretty" facade....so much better than the Bush era. Still, I believe most average Republicans exist under a delusion, the delusion that Romney and his party truly care about advancing the American middle class financially. The delusion exists despite the fact that only a small portion of Americans will ever be wealthy regardless of how long and how hard they work. But the Republican Party encourages the notion that somehow all Americans will have an equal chance of getting rich provided the Republicans are in power. And the average Republican buys into this, just like people buying a lottery ticket, believing there is a real chance the average American can get rich. Most wealthy people wish to segregate themselves from the "average" American. Maintaining their power and wealth is a primary concern.

    October 12, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Lou the Liberal

    Ryan showed that he can't be trusted just like Romney did. The fact of the matter is that when asked simple questions by the moderator and Biden, Ryan danced around the question and NEVER provided any answer that was specific enough to trust. When Mitt Romney interrupted the President and moderator it was seen as "strong and aggressive", when Joe Biden does it then it's rude and classless. Yeah.....OK!

    October 12, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. matt

    MESSAGE TO RYAN DEBATE PREP TEAM: "you are fired." You know darn well Biden had NO stats from the past 4 years to stand on...and the only thing he had left is immature smirks and childish gestures. It's an age old tactic and it worked. RYAN SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN RIGHT BACK IN HIS FACE...AND HE DIDN'T...SHAME ON THE RYAN CAMP FOR NOT REPRESENTING CONSERVATIVES FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE. You know darn well the STATS and FACTS are secondary in a debate environment....it's a personality and appearance "SHOW" and you people better figure that out or else you DESERVE to lose.

    October 12, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. george1911

    Amazing, the GOP refuses to deal with anybody and goes off and cries in the corner. They have been doing this for years now. Now they claim that the Dem's have had their chance and to vote the GOP back in, so that they can tell the rest of us how we "should be living our lives" and turn the banks loose on us again. Anyone who votes for the GOP is voting away their rights to live the American Dream and will end up living in the streets like it was in 1930.

    October 12, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Paul Ryan did well since the moderator and Joe Biden was aganist him .

    October 12, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Al

    When Romney says he wants to help 100% of Americans, he really means; help 100% of Americans 53% of the time...

    October 12, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Jim

    I'd like to thank the main stream media and Vice President Biden for reminding me of an old saying we had in the NAVY...."you can spend a lot of time polishing a turd....but at the end of the day...it's still a turd". This is what MSNBC and other media outlets are doing now. Biden could have shown up, burped and fart and the Lawrence O'donell 's and Chris Matthew's of the world would have fallen all over themselves citing Bidens genius. Sitting there and acting like a 12 year old hyper active kid stating "that's a lie....that's a lie" isn't debating.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. TheBigT

    Jarred, what about all the LIES Biden/Obama have shoved down your throat for 4 years. I guess you are an idiot and have no clue what is right or wrong either. Let's add 6 trillion dollars to the debt, do absolutely nothing in 4 years and blame someone else. Typical Democrat lies.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Barbara

    Is CNN kidding? Biden clearly won the debate. Ryan appeared naive and inexperienced.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. sf


    I think its funny how when Obama was calm and not confrontational but lacking specifics he was seen as weak and people believed he did a bad job during the first debate. Romney, although not as fiery as Joe, seemed confrontational as well, he smirked, kept a stupid grin on his face, interrupted and would not listen to the moderator, is that presidential? Now that the tables are turned and Ryan being calm, non-confrontational but lacking specifics like Obama did is ok and presidential now? We cant have it both ways. I appreciate Joe being fired up about the issues hell someone needs to! He may not have the best behavior but I believe he will truly fight for me and not just help out his cronies. Style < substance.



    October 12, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. william anderson

    Everything set aside we still have to work together! President Obama open the oilfeilds put a leash on the EPA!Romney and Ryan quit lying to the American people and favoring strictly a radical agenda!And house republicans get over the fact that the President arrogant and black!This country is tired of all of the crap on both sides !No more wars!Unless we have to!People on welfare if you are able, get off your as and go to work!If they are not able and a senior we should take care of them!We need to work together guys ,do you have any self conviction?On either side?Quit helping your self and help the United States of America! May my God help us or let us destroy ourselves!!!!!!!!Regulate more and raise taxes to everybody but the real poor !It is the only way to stop the greedy ,regulate !Its the only way to cut the debt,raise taxes and quit spending!Shame on all of you!Bunch of 5 year olds!!Gimmi ,Gimmi! That's mine !Or he hit me!!!!Grow up America and push a broom ,wash a car ,go to college ,something,quit whining!!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Gail Miller

    I have searched blog activity after the VP debate of 10/11/12 and am incredulous that there is no comment to VP Joe Biden waving his finger in Martha Raddatz' direction, if not in her face as close as they were seated, and his angry lecturing tone speaking to Ms Raddatz. If it were a male moderator, would Biden have been as dismissive and condescending? If it were Paul Ryan waving his finger in a woman's face, and talking down to a woman, lecturing her in a superior pushy manner and tone, would there be silence? Where, oh where are you feminist activists, when a liberal condescends a professional woman?

    October 12, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. maria

    As a woman, I was disgusted and disturbed with the way Biden acted. Laughing about serous issues. Really? Do Obama/Biden think the state of our economy, 4 Americans killed in Lybia, Iran making nuclear weapos is a laughing matter? Disgusting!!!! Def lost my vote.

    October 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    CNN admits today they polled more Republicans....No wonder they rated there slick-oil peddling RYAN higher!

    October 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. AJG

    It's terrifying to watch Biden defend the status quo with regards to Iran. It's more terrifying that Obama goes on The View instead of meeting with Netanyahu. Syria and Libya will seem like playground antics in another 12 months.

    October 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. rafael geronimo

    i dont trust ryan at all, i think he is liar, the republican party now, they not that clear on what they looking for it, and this company cnn iis definately becoming pro-republican. i agree with mister "indigo" cuz is true biden kill ryan last night. and any ways they are saying to ryan won that is not fear ryan was trying to be smart and he look robotics.

    October 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. sellsword


    Hey CNN isn't 48% bigger than 44%

    How about a headline like "Ryan given a slight advantage within the margin of error"

    Seems like when it's the Dems loosing you say all kinds of qualifiers by if the Repubs you say it's a split

    October 12, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. Gita

    Yes, I agree on it. Romney and Rayan are just lyer.

    October 12, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. Esther L

    I am a democrat but very ashamed of my VP's behavior at the debate. He behaved like a barking dog; not presidential/world leader at all.

    October 12, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Amanda

    And a sampling of roughly 400 voters truly decides who wins the debate for you guys? C'mon, CNN–put some more time and effort into these polls.

    October 12, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Ryan made it pretty clear his agenda on a number of fronts, national security, as well as women's healthcare rights were free to be bullied upon by the Romney and Ryan administration, as well as the rest of this failed party. Republicans, despite behaviors exhibited during ANY debate has not grown up or advanced with the times or moved with changes in American society.

    This a party that still believes other people aren't smart enough or religious enough to believe what they feel is right in their lives. I find is amazing they still have the support they do, which tells me they are right about a lot of people in this country... they don't know what to believe, so they rely on Republicans to think and believe for them.

    October 12, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. diane

    Yes we no what we got and I do not want another 4 year of what we have had. And they cannot get there story right on the 4 Americans Killed. We all deserve the truth.

    October 12, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Scott

    Still undecided here...Not sure Romney is the man for the people....?? now what?

    October 12, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. independent thinker

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. —Proverbs 26:4 (King James version)

    October 12, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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