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. chris

    It's funny how last week. Romney was bold and aggressive. But Biden was rude and condescending. While Dems admit the President did not do enough. Republicans instead of admitting that Ryan was way overmatched..Repubs do what they do best. BLAME SOMEONE ELSE. Nothing wrong with us.The Political Right is a joke these days. And still no specifics.

    October 12, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  2. IamJim

    It was a decent debate. But Ryan was clearly more controlled and in command of the issues. Biden was that awkward uncle that doesn't have any social skills. Ryan won this by a respectable margin!

    October 12, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  3. Glen

    CNN I’m not sure what channel you were watching or were you got your poll but Biden won that debate. So much so that If I was undecided before, Biden without a doubt showed me tonight who to veto for this election.

    Obama / Biden 2012

    October 12, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  4. bondo42

    Biden was an absolute jerk!!!!!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  5. daniel

    I think JOE took him to a school.

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  6. stopspending

    Biden reminded me of the character in The Wizard of Oz, the one who needed a brain and in Biden's case he also needs a laxative to release all the BS he has stored up. This was a poor showing for the number two person in our government and he should apologize to the citizens of the US and Romney / Ryan.

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  7. Mireya

    Joe Biden embarrassed himself...and this country. It was the first debate performance that I have ever seen that I would describe as "creepy."

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  8. Sandy

    In terms of substance, it was a pretty even match. Both of them made some good points, and both of them have trouble responding to some points. Ryan had difficulties in dealing with Afghanistan and commitment to a draw down date, as well as some unease in giving any details over what tax loopholes he will close. Biden had some issues with finding a coherent argument on medicare solvency issues, as well as the administration's lack of action in Syria and other places in the MIddle East. Although I would have to say, Ryan was pretty tough but civil, but Biden at times appeared rude, maybe it's just me.

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  9. mmm

    this poll is cray cray CNN - Biden showed what a complete amateur Mr. Ryan is. If the Republicans want to talk about "disrespect" now, we have a lot of history of their disrespect for the elected President of the United States to review. Biden was just excellent and they know it - wiped the floor with the high schooler ideologue who has no experience on foreign affairs, and only meanness for domestic policy (unless you are rich, of course, in which case, as a "job creator" you get a total pass - yeah, Koch bros!)

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  10. Kevin

    Biden made a complete (Democratic Party mascot) of himself as usual. If he scored points with the mindless masses on social media by being condescending and disrespectful, then that speaks volumes for the intellect of the audience in question...

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  11. pilgrimsjob

    How bout, mope and complain?

    October 12, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  12. Erik Borgefalk

    I'm not a statistical expert, but I do know that 385 is a pretty small sample when it comes to statistical analysis... And a +/- 5% interval – you can make intervals even if you have a samle of 50. In Sweden when we use these types of polls (in a country of 9 million inhabitants) we use at least 1500 if it's going to be published in the terms of (This guy won..). Next time – more people in the poll please! Great debate though!

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  13. Dr. Norma Parker

    Well, I will not be changing my vote. Obama 2012!

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  14. Stella

    Biden looked like a complete fool, wake up. I can't believe anyone watching that could think he won the debate. Giggling like a schoolgirl does not make a man look smart or in charge and grinning hysterically like a mental patient doesn't either. Obama supporters truly drink the Koolaid. There is no more deluded bunch of automatons.

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |

    Biden debated a little better but Ryan won on substance. Ryan looked very presidential and Bidden came across as extremely rude and unprofessional, not like a VP should. Bidden was also very dishonest and misleading and there will be more talk about that to come. Team Romney/Ryan move to 2-0.

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  16. kane

    Biden scared me in this debate. He was very angry, rude, and unstable. Even the so-called moderator was somewhat rude to Ryan. As I was watching this debate, I heard the last gasp of air rushing out of the Obama campain. Its over for Obama now.

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  17. LizardLicke

    Black hole sun, won't you come wash away the rain you made.

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  18. Me

    You should have polled people that actually watched the debate then.

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  19. Saffrondog

    OMG. So here is the debate. The COC has said publicly that we will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Mr. Ryan (bless his bloodless heart) says, "Look, you are leaving our troops vulnerable to being under defended. The mistake the President made was to set a deadline. Setting a deadline encourages the enemy to wait until close to the deadline and then they are going to come out of their lairs and massacre our troops." And Ryan's suggestion is "don't say what we are going to do." Thank you Congressman. As a member of the Taliban, that is a great idea. That's exactly what we will do. And if we do it in time, maybe you will get elected. Perfect.

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  20. The Hammer

    Ryan won. Biden was an old condescending man.
    Romney/Ryan wins by a landslide.
    I've already voted!
    Time to reclaim this country back from the whining left. Tonight was a great example of what I mean.
    Great job Ryan!

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  21. rc

    I'm disappointed about CNN poll : "debate watchers"? How many are Republicans? Its clear that Biden won!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  22. bondo42

    Biden was an absolute JERK!!!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  23. Adam

    The laughing from Biden was at a campaign that has just abandoned their platform they have been standing on from the start of this election year. It may not have looked professional, but the man has the experience in foreign policy, and more importantly DIPLOMACY. This economy is not going to turn around over night, and anyone that thinks otherwise, is just a fool. Obama/Biden have laid the groundwork to bring this country around. I say let them finished what they started. Otherwise, it's back to square one with a job killer, and middle class hangman!!

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  24. Pashmina

    One third Republians and 31% Democrats? That is a heavily skewed tilt towards Republicans. Extremely unscientific, and CNBC should be ashamed. They are descending further and further into the Fox universe of delusional idiocy!

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  25. johnmiller

    Biden said, "We were not told more security was needed at Benghazi." A total lie revealed by the hearings this week... the fact is, Chris Stevens himself begged the State Department for more security, and it never came.

    Stupid Joe must be using Susan Rice's OLD talking points from over a week ago... the same ones that claim the attack was a reaction from the video tape, and not terrorists.

    Biden, this is a national security issue that is now common knowledge, and you get it wrong. You have no business being VP...

    October 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
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