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. Clay

    Biden won hands down. He had much better grasp of various issues and his responses were clear and concrete.

    October 12, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  2. Robert

    I think your sampling error is more like -20%. Biden was clearly in charge of the discussion.

    October 12, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  3. maya ayala

    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 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  4. Sandra

    You closed the poll before others who watched the debate could visit CNN and choose. VP Biden mopped the floor with Congressman Ryan. I have no idea what debate you were reporting or viewing, but it sure as hell wasn't the one I was watching!

    October 12, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  5. Joy

    No excuse for mockery, rudeness and just being an out-right jerk!!! (Biden)
    Keeping a level head, remaining cool when an attack is being made is the kind of leadership I look for. (Ryan)

    This debate is no laughing matter! This country is in MAJOR trouble!

    October 12, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  6. freedom

    If Biden's behavior appeals to the base of Democrats, then that's one more reason why I'm not one. He was laughing at the most serious issues our country is facing, and very disrespectful to the moderator and Ryan.

    October 12, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  7. Marcy Drake

    Joe Biden schooled Paul Ryan tonight. Ryan was dumbfounded for a good portion of the debate, and nervously drinking that glass of water. It wasn't even close. Joe Biden spoke in clear language. Ryan was on his heals and obviously out of his league.

    Sound on, sound off...Joe Biden hit a home run.

    October 12, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  8. Lydia

    A fitting proverb for Biden and the debate. Ryan showed class against a man with no class. Biden disrespected the people who are serious about what the candidates have to say and he thought we wanted to watch a clown.

    Proverbs 29:9 If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

    October 12, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  9. Peace

    Biden did extremely amazing job. I am surprised that CNN is showing split on Polls and leaning bits towards Ryan!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Joe won't be smiling on November 7th !

    October 12, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  11. Lying Biden

    As a Skilled Nursing Administrator of 40 years, I've seen thousands of senile old folks. Looking at Biden's inappropriate laughter and his demeanor, it is clear to me that Biden exhibits initial stages of senility. Either that or Alzheimer's.

    October 12, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  12. Anonymous

    FINALLY, the BS scripted by the GOP was owned!!

    October 12, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  13. kan

    Whoever we talk to are saying Biden debated well. I don't know how CNN poll is showing Ryan did better than Biden. We all saw before Ryan said a single word the bar for female voters rise. How is it possible?

    October 12, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  14. Osn09

    Hahaha so many mad liberals that see their trash president about to be ousted

    October 12, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  15. Jon C

    Clearly Joe Biden schooled Ryan who was pretty slippery, but was caught on several occasions by Biden (e.g. stimulus, tax plan, unemployment). The real contest will be next week and the president needs to come out swinging.

    October 12, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  16. Bruce

    I felt that Ryan won the debate and was more informative about all of the issues. I can't beleive that the Obama administration can go three years with no budget and anyone would want to give them4 more years of absolutely no game plan. I just hope that if we don't make a change that the next alcada attack won't be on US soil. That is if they would tell us the truth about that.

    October 12, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  17. oldvet10

    One of the many reasons I won't vote for Obama is Biden, I tremble with the thought of him ever being President. A career "talking head" like Reid, Pelosi or Akin, exactly what is wrong with this country.

    October 12, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  18. Melissa

    You polled 381 registered voters? Thats not even a remotely reliable sample size! And please don't tell me CNN conducted the poll through telephones. Probably only about 381 americans own s house phone, and they are probably old, and radically conservative, therefore (republican). Social Media data is WAY more accurate! TeamBiden!

    October 12, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  19. BIJ

    Ryan clearly won the debate although he had some rocky moments. He was polite, respectful and delivered his statements clearly.The Vice President on the other hand was rude ,bullying, disrespectful, interrupted the whole time and spent most of his non-debating moments with a ridiculous condescending smirk on his face. The moderator, whom I know is a highly respected jornalist was useless and failed to do her job which greatly favoured the boorish Biden.

    October 12, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  20. maya ayala

    Joe Biden reminded me of THE JOKER from the old Batman movie (where Jack Nicholson played the part). Biden was CREEPY and very obnoxious.

    October 12, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  21. gary3072

    Joe is a loud-mouthed drunkard lowlife who is twisting the facts and lying for Nobama....Ryan was completely respectful and well-mannered with all the facts ....there's no debate. Romney/Ryan 2012 !!!

    October 12, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  22. Name Doug

    Not sure what debate those people were watching. Biden clearly won the debate on virtually every subject. Ryan was so weak on foreign affairs was in itself a clear indication of ill prepared he would be to become VP.

    October 12, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  23. Stellar12

    I watched the entire debate. I thought Joe Biden was great. He made it clear he wasn't going to put up with the usual Romney/Ryan fairy tales. I think Ryan was rude, he kept talking long over his time and the only way Joe could get the moderator to stop him was to make a comment. The only time Joe laughed was when Ryan started telling fairy stories again. He made it clear he wasn't buying it, but also told the public why we shouldn't either. We know what Romney and Ryan's records are and we don't want it. Its laughable that the man who outsourced a lot of our jobs overseas now claims he will create jobs for all the millions the republicans put on the streets. There is no magic wand that can fix the mess George W. created. All we can do is keep working towards our goals and keep moving forward.

    October 12, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  24. headly_d

    I thought a debate is supposed to be engaging and whoever most accurately and succinctly answers the moderators questions and presents or defends their point is the victor. Then how can Ryan be the winner? How many questions did Congressman Ryan answer? He avoided the questions posed and went straight into his speaking points. CNN analysts also need to explain or at least make the distinction between a plan and objectives. A simple statement of "5 point plan" that are more objectives than a plan is not adequate. To date we have no details of actions to be taken by Romney or Ryan. The media needs to demand the details for an actual contrast to be drawn to actions now being taken by the President/current administration and his plan of action going forward. There is a stark difference between "doing" and "saying" what you are going to do. But if you are stating your position or plan of action then outline specifically what those actions are. I intend to climb Mount Everest by January 2013. That is an objective/goal. How I plan to achieve that goal requires actions – Substance please!!

    October 12, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  25. sleepy

    I thought that Joe Biden was having a nervous breakdown on stage.

    Is he extremely BIPOLAR?

    The worst part was when Biden was laughing at the moment where Paul Ryan was speaking about the ambassador and military men who were killed by terrorists in Libya. That was CREEPY!

    October 12, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
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