October 11th, 2012
11:25 PM ET
10 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. Kathy

    "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey." - Joe Biden

    October 11, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  2. Even the liberals know ...

    Come on.. it is CNN's poll !! We all know they polled Liberals and even they agree... Joe Biden failed.

    October 11, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  3. Karen


    October 11, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  4. smilewbrian

    Joe Biden set the low bar for courtesy in national debates. Even Al Gore, with all his sighing and near-mugging of Bush, couldn't compete with Uncle Joe.

    October 11, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  5. Terry

    Ryan won by a huge margin on style. I give Ryan a slight edge on substance.

    October 11, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  6. Steve B

    @th33 I guess you like your lies delivered with smiles!

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  7. tim

    Was unwatchable. Biden kept interrupting. Had a condescending smirks. Ryan not forceful enough to swat back Biden's obnoxious behavior.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  8. Kay

    Really! Is this poll about this debate or something else? Biden crushed Ryan, period!

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  9. Skip K

    not even close. Biden by a country mile. CNN poll, to say it kindly, seems made up.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  10. Carol

    What debate were they watching? Ryan got pummeled. Boy vs man and man won! Ryan had no idea on several answers esp on foreign policy and refused to offer any facts to back up the extreme economic policy of Romney. Won't say how those tax cuts will be paid for. Ryan's abortion answer turned off women. Clear winner was Biden.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  11. ML

    Ryan did very well and showed great strength of character. His grasp of foreign and domestic policy was impressive. I agree that he won the debate. Biden was rude, snarky and didn't do Obama any good. His apparent lack of knowledge about what happened in Libya was especially troublesome. As the sitting vice president with supposed foreign policy credentials, he was woefully misinformed. He was probably skipping intelligence briefings just like Obama.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  12. Rich

    CNN This Is Why Both FOX & MSNBC Tops You Everyday !

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  13. J

    The polls must not take into account FACTS.......Ryan had no answers when asked about specifics; are peole voting on looks, likeability, age?? There was no way Biden losses on content of debate, additionally, I felt Biden's frustration came from Ryan spewing so many lies. Sooner or later people have to realize that Romney/Ryan have no answers as to how they are going to achieve the lofty goals they have laid out.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  14. sandiegojay

    Not sure how you define "won" in this case. Dems will all claim Biden won because he was aggressive-not necessarily correct, but he was his typical "pit bull" self. That really appeals to Dems who saw Obama come off as weak in the last debate. ALso, Ryan seemed to avoid answering some details, another perceived sign of weakness. Reps, on the other hand, will say that Biden was overly aggressive and rude and antagonistic. They will also say that Biden didn't have good answers, but Ryan's responses were satisfactory.

    In my opinion, Biden's "aggressiveness" was an indication of his inability to adequately respond to the the issues, he resorted to attempts to bully Ryan. It reminded me of a six year old argument where there is no logic to the argument, just a matter of whoever can drown out the other being the "winner". Ryan missed a few key points where he could have dropped some bombs on Biden and potentially crush Biden's arguments-but Ran stuck to the party line-which was a weak position to debate from.

    One big point.........Biden/Obama claim that raising taxes on the rich will generate $800 billion in increased revenues over 10 years. $800 billion is a large amount of money, however, under Obama, the US government is going into debt over $1 trillion+ each year. So in 10 years, the Dem tax increases won't cover the amount they overspend in 1 year.....hello McFly....Is anybody home?????? Too much scare tactics aimed at the "middle class"....why is Obama dead set on killing the dream of most Americans to be wealthy?

    If you want to criticize Romney's taxes, consider the following....where are all Congressional tax returns for public review. ALso, if Dems feel that the rich aren't paying their "fair sure", ask a Dem if they itemize their deductions when they file taxes each year-then ask WHY they itemize deductions. The IRS does not require you to itemize deductions, the 1040 Schedule A is used to REDUCE taxes owed. IF they REALLY FEEL that people aren't paying enough, LEAD BY EXAMPLE-STOP ITEMIZING DEDUCTIONS and accept the IRS "standard" deduction.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  15. Jan

    How can a person be chosen as the winner if they never actually answer a question so you can make an accurate choice? Talk about biased reporting! Shame on y'all!!

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  16. RedPuma

    I think the thing that hurt Biden them most was his facial expressions. Just didn't look professional.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  17. Cat

    BIDEN won as far as I am concerned! I vote BIDEN!

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  18. Blue all the way

    Biden stop lyin' Ryan in his tracks. Ryan was so nervous he was drinking water like he was lost in a desert somewhere...if it would have been beer he would be hammered by now.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. JojoJpclarksville

    Biden was rude and busy throwing US intelligence under the bus.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  20. Juan Rivera

    Maybe, republicans jumped to vote on the poll ... because i don't understand this either. I hope some one from cnn is watching this comments. what's going on?. Biden was solid. Ryan became small and his words as elaborate as they were did not seem strong at all.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  21. Delores

    CNN is just like Romney and Ryan ALL LIES
    Joe Biden won the debate and i am an independent who is undecided

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Louis

    Biden is the winner 100%. I am shocked at the poll from CNN – were we watching the same debate? Where did those numbers come from demographically? Joe Biden BROUGHT IT...

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  23. Gary

    Biden was rude, disrespectful and condescending as he continually interrupted Ryan. Ryan was interrupted nearly every time he spoke. The moderator rarely stepped in. Sometimes she even joined in the interruption to further Biden's questioning of Ryan. I was surprised that Biden only had one more minute of total time than Ryan. They must not have counted the interruptions. I cannot imagine a President Biden.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  24. Charles

    I write news for radio for a living, and it's sad to see how many people think Biden won and had command of the "facts." He was not only rude, obnoxious and clownish (his constant, disrespectful interruptions reminded me of a Chihuahua on Red Bull), but his statements of "fact" were repeatedly wrong. I don't even have room to list all the errors, from the reversed relative sizes of Libya and Syria to his claim that there had never been a 20%+ tax cut that didn't result in the middle class paying more (except in the '20s, the '60s and the '80s). And I thought the economic meltdown was caused by the subprime mortgage debacle! Turns out it was caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the Medicare prescription drug benefit. He and Obama need to let Romney and Ryan take over, and they can go run Fantasy Land.

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  25. Larry prince, tax

    Biden handed the Wonker his 'hat' in the debate. CNN must not have been watching the same debate...

    October 11, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
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