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.
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.
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.
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.