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VP Debate Poll: Ryan 48, Biden 44

According to the foreign policy wonks on my Twitter feed, which probably skews Democratic, Joe Biden wiped the floor with Paul Ryan last night. According to normal people, though, Ryan came out slightly ahead.

CNN (“CNN Poll: Debate watchers split on who won VP debate“):

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.

Uh, no. That the sample was “more Republican than the country as a whole” is meaningless, unless Republicans are more likely to answer surveys. That there’s a four point margin of error is significant since we only have one poll thus far; if they all show something similar, we’ll know for sure.

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.

This is the only number that really matters. Most people already had their minds mind up, after all.

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.

That was my instant reaction as well. I’ve always liked Biden, seeing him as a good guy who’s smart on the issues. But he struck me as a rude jerk last night.

In the 2000 debates better known for their SNL send-ups than the events themselves, I thought Gore beat Bush. He had better command of the facts and was quicker on his feet. That was probably true of Biden last night as well (at least metaphorically; they were seated). But Gore lost with the viewing audience because he was seen as unlikable.   Last night, I thought Biden’s sneering and condescension were much worse than Gore’s eye-rolling and sighing. If the CNN insta-poll is right, the viewing audience agreed.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    I can’t wait until the election is over, and we can all start dreaming again of debates about plans and policy.

    I feel duped to think we actually wanted them, as more than a dream.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  2. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: The problem is two-fold. First, the small percentage of people who are genuinely undecided are mostly people who don’t care about policy. Second, there are strong incentives for both Democrats and Republicans to lie about policy or glom on to the popular parts of their opponent’s plans while also keeping the popular parts of their own. The upshot of that is that you can’t have a serious debate: both sides promise a lot while not credibly paying for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. sam says:

    Dave Weigel:

    In the meantime, let us consider the post-debate spin. On Thursday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan was the guy who bow-hunted for fun and posed for pictures of his P90X workout. On Thursday night, he had been unfairly bullied by an old guy.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 0

  4. john personna says:

    Did I miss Biden lying about policy? Or is the style discussion masking a false equivalence?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 2

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    Last night, I thought Biden’s sneering and condescension were much worse than Gore’s eye-rolling and sighing.

    Last night, I thought Ryan’s plans to destroy Medicare, end a woman’s right to choose, and get us involved in yet another Middle East war were much worse than Biden’s supposed tone.

    But I suppose it’s to be expected that Democrats focus on substance and policy while Republicans are reduced to whining about style and whether they feel disrespected. It’s the difference between the adults who actually have to do the work and emo teenagers who have the luxury of never having to take responsibility for their actions.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 59 Thumb down 9

  6. john ramirez says:

    Democrats lose another debate, not quite the knockout victory of the first Presidential Debate, but still a win based on substance and appeal.

    Ryan comes across as intelligent, not rash or quick to answer, and polite, while providing sound answers to topics.

    Biden comes across as rash, rude, smug, and divisive, while doing well on a few topics, but overall relying on catch phrases, repetetive rhetorical remarks, and trying to “out-shout” or interrupt Ryan instead of providing answers to the questions.

    Amusing debate, but it is all simply a spectator sport. A biased moderator did not help either. A “third party” ex-candidate should moderate debates.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 46

  7. Rafer Janders says:

    Second, there are strong incentives for both Democrats and Republicans to lie about policy

    What policy did Biden lie about? Specific cite, please.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 4

  8. superdestroyer says:

    Maybe everyone should consider Biden to be the face of the coming nanny state. At least Biden looks like he would be comfortable leading the entitlement state where politics is about government goodies, who pays, and who receives.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 39

  9. sam says:

    @john ramirez:

    A biased moderator did not help either.

    Laaaaame

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 5

  10. john personna says:

    @john ramirez:

    Which Republican plan? They switch them faster than we can read them! Where is the new Medicare breakdown, with rules which insure the poor will be fully covered, and the middle class will pay little?

    Where is the missing 5 trillion dollars?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 2

  11. Hello World! says:

    Biden owned junior. Ryan is clearly uncomfortable talking about foreign policy, and gave answers to domestic policy that left too much wiggle room for the american people to buy in to.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 5

  12. SKI says:

    Amazing how Ryan’s inability/refusal to answer two differ question (how does the math work and whether an R/R administration would put abortion access in jeopardy) plays no part in your analysis of who won.

    Put another way, people that actually care about substance, not style, would lean heavily for Biden. And I’m not even presuming that they know that Ryan lied through his teeth repeatedly.

    Oh, and why no mention of the CBS poll of undecided voters that favored Biden 50-31?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 4

  13. john personna says:

    You know, rather than “disliking” a question, you could try answering it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  14. Tillman says:

    Anyone else remember that line about “ceding the veto to Russia” concerning Syria? How can anyone with a vague understanding of Cold War history take Ryan seriously?

    As far as false equivalence goes, how is it that the President can be seen as meek and unassertive in his debate while Ryan gets calm, composed, and measured? These debates were almost mirrors of each other in terms of one side dominating the debate (in Ryan’s defense he held his own better than Obama did), and yet I’m seeing double standards pop up everywhere.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    @SKI:

    Amazing how Ryan’s inability/refusal to answer two differ question (how does the math work and whether an R/R administration would put abortion access in jeopardy) plays no part in your analysis of who won. Put another way, people that actually care about substance, not style, would lean heavily for Biden.

    As I said above, Republicans focus on personal style because they can’t fight on substance. The answer to “please show us, in detail, the math of how your plan is supposed to work” is always a huffy, faux-outraged “I don’t like your tone, sir!”

    It’s the last resort of a loser.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 4

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tillman:

    As far as false equivalence goes, how is it that the President can be seen as meek and unassertive in his debate while Ryan gets calm, composed, and measured?

    How? Simple. IOKIYAR.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  17. JamesDon says:

    What’s funny is that CNN had a live blog going on during the debate, and by the end of it there was a poll that showed that 62% thought that Biden won.

    Then out of nowhere they come up with a different poll that shows Ryan winning, when the rest of the US clearly knows that Biden smacked Ryan around and won handily…

    As Biden would say, “use your common sense, who do you trust”?

    Ryan was a disaster, I can’t believe people think he looked competent out there.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 5

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I really intended to watch as much of this one as practicable. But with living in a PST zone in what’s an EST political world, and with the Steelers and Yankees games, it became damn near impossible. I might have absorbed about 1/3 of the debate.

    Ryan didn’t leave much of any major impression on me. I have a hard time taking someone seriously for VP of the US when they’re younger than me. As Ryan was talking I kept thinking to myself, why exactly did Romney not pick either Portman or McDonnell. But obviously I’m abnormal. Ryan clearly was prepared to be double teamed by Biden and the moderator. Or perhaps his natural disposition is to be collected. He didn’t at any point that I saw lose his cool. That was a plus for him. Other than that, however, meh.

    Biden was in a tough spot. He had to throw some red meat to what truly is a collection of useful idiots while simultaneously not going full crazy uncle in the attic. Certainly he threw out a lot of red meat for the MSNBC/Internet/college crowd. He didn’t in the time I was watching have a meltdown. But man alive, the snickering, the laughing, the mugging for the camera, the interrupting, etc., that was really bad. It would not surprise me one iota if the GOP/RNC simply takes a split screen shot of Biden laughing while Ryan is discussing Libya or the horrible economy and turns it into a paid TV ad for the key states. At the risk of damning him with very faint praise, Biden I suppose did a lot better than Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

  19. SKI says:

    @Rafer Janders: exactly.

    Compare and contrast debate spin:
    GOP: Biden was mean
    Dems: Biden killed Ryan

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  20. Fog says:

    Everyone, at some point in their lives, has a crying need to be ignored. This post is a good example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  21. john personna says:

    @SKI:

    And a complete absence of “our plan/policies won!” from the right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  22. Mikey says:

    Ryan’s 53%-43% advantage on being more likable

    All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Scott says:

    I only got to see the last 10 minutes so my impression is based on that limited exposure but Ryan came across as a smug, little (fill in the blank). It may be an age bias on my part (i’m older by 14 years) but I wanted to wipe the smirk off his face. My wife felt the same way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  24. C. Clavin says:

    Why did you ignore the CBS poll that had Biden winning by a wide margin?
    You guys are such hacks…so in the tank for Romeny it’s pathetic. (SLT excepted)
    Shouldn’t you really re-write your mission statement more along the lines of Breitbart or Hot Air?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  25. Tillman says:

    @JamesDon:

    What’s funny is that CNN had a live blog going on during the debate, and by the end of it there was a poll that showed that 62% thought that Biden won.

    Four words: Snakes on a Plane. The Internet is not to be trusted so easily.

    @Tillman: (pulling a JP) I’m guessing some people don’t like being called out on cognitive dissonance. Seriously, Biden’s rude but Romney’s tough? Look at them again without partisan blinders; they’re both old dudes yelling more than their opponents who are not-quite-as-old dudes. They both talked through their opponent, they both berated the moderator, they both threw their weight around. You can’t claim one is rude and the other not.

    I doubt anyone downvoted over “ceding the vote to Russia” since that was Ryan not understanding international institutions put in place to avert Nuclear Holocaust.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  26. stonetools says:

    There’s nothing condescending about treating laughable BS like laughable B S.,
    Nowhere in James’ post is there any discussion of why Ryan’s policy arguments were any better than Biden’s . For where I sit, Ryan’s discussion of domestic policy really was laugh-inducing, and his foreign policy arguments more so.
    Biden clearly won on substance. Sure he could have laughed less, but look on the dishonest nonsense Ryan was shoveling, with his magical tax cut programs and his Medicare voucher plans. When someone tells one whopper after another, maybe laughter is the best response.

    As to polls, there are other polls that show Biden won. A majority of pundits -even conservative ones-think Biden won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  27. Aidan says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  28. Rick Almeida says:

    @Tillman:

    As far as false equivalence goes, how is it that the President can be seen as meek and unassertive in his debate while Ryan gets calm, composed, and measured?

    It’s almost always OK if you’re a Republican, and Republicans will almost always get the vapors and head for the fainting couch if Democrats don’t just play dead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  29. legion says:

    This morning, on anything except the most absurdly extremist sites, you can’t find _anyone_ willing to say Ryan came out ahead last night. James, I love you guys, but you really did just leap on the first thing that said “Ryan won!” and ran with it. Just as comparison, here’s a veritable laundry list of people talking about Ryan getting crushed…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  30. lageorgia says:

    @Scott: Our opinion exactly. We, my husband and I, thought Ryan was like the nasty high school kid everyone hates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  31. Andre Kenji says:

    Biden won the debate. The VP debate is not about the VP himself, it´s about the ticket. Biden used the debate to successfully attack the Republican Ticket, Ryan did not. Biden asking Ryan if he wanted more war with iran was pretty effective.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  32. Lit3Bolt says:

    Shorter James Joyner and other Republicans who think Ryan “won” or had a “draw”:

    Partisan blinders for me but not for thee.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @lageorgia:

    We, my husband and I, thought Ryan was like the nasty high school kid everyone hates.

    Paul Ryan looks, sounds and acts like the love child of Eddie Haskell and Eddie Munster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  34. Janis Gore says:

    @Rafer Janders: Ha! Very good line!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  35. MM says:

    As far as false equivalence goes, how is it that the President can be seen as meek and unassertive in his debate while Ryan gets calm, composed, and measured? These debates were almost mirrors of each other in terms of one side dominating the debate (in Ryan’s defense he held his own better than Obama did), and yet I’m seeing double standards pop up everywhere.

    Republicans treat other Republicans as default alpha males, and liberals as effete beta males. Therefore all behaviors must be an extension of this Dynamic. Ryan is calm because he only needed to be calm. Obama was calm because he is weak. Similarly, Biden was aggressive because he is a bully. Romney was aggressive because he had to show Obama who is boss.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  36. sam says:

    CNN is saying its poll base was weighted toward Republicans:

    According to This Poll

    A CNN/ORC International post-debate poll shows that 48% of likely voters think Paul Ryan won the vice-presidential debate, while 44% think Joe Biden won. SPECIAL NOTE OF CAUTION #1: This poll does not and cannot reflect the views of all Americans. It only represents the views of people who watched the debate. SPECIAL NOTE OF CAUTION #2: The sample of debate-watchers in this poll were 31% Democratic and 33% Republican. That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is about eight points more Republican than an average CNN poll of all Americans, so the respondents were more Republican than the general public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  37. mannning says:

    Joe Biden, a serving VP of the United States, a man one heartbeat away from the presidency, a man that has available to him all of the services of the White House (if he chooses to use them), hardly kept his head above water against Paul Ryan, and had to use theatrical tricks, interruptions and bombast to survive at all. A most annoying man. Ryan by 10.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  38. al-Ameda says:

    Ryan was smarmy and evasive. Other than that, he did well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Eric Florack says:

    it should have been no surprise to anyone when Biden came out Thursday night, and started sounding for all the world like the tinfoil hat crowd that so idolizes him. Angry, rude, obnoxious, with a total inability to shut up. His rudeness and condescension were palpable. He interrupted Paul Ryan no less than 92 times by even CNN’s account, over the 90 minutes. CNN of course being no bastion of right-wing thought… that CNN even kept a count on such matters seems to be indicative of what they thought of Biden’s performance. Of course, each interruption came just as Ryan got going. It was as if Biden was afraid of letting Ryan complete a point.

    For so he was. He was deathly afraid of allowing anyone but himself on that stage (and the moderator, who was unquestionably in his corner) to MAKE a point for fear it would connect with voters.

    And that’s something of a trend I’ve noted over the years, from Democrats.

    Limbaugh noted the other day…

    The Democrat Party, for those of you who are casual participants, the Democrat Party is a very mean-spirited, extreme — Biden personified what we’ve been dealing with for 12 years, ever since Bush-Gore, ever since the 2000 election and the recount aftermath. This is who they’ve been.

    I thought it was great. I thought they came out of their shell. None of this so-called compassion and understanding. Biden’s express purpose was to go out there and get that base revved up, and what does that base want? That base wants blood. The base wants rude. The base wants disrespect. The Democrat base is made up of people who literally hate Republicans. Biden gave them exactly what they wanted. In the process, he didn’t help Obama, and he didn’t help himself, with the electorate at large.

    Limbaugh’s larger point here goes in a slightly different direction. But I think he’s onto something here. I’m personally a veteran of decades worth of political discussions with Leftists…. If you can call them discussions… and I can tell you first hand, that what we saw in the debate Thursday night is exactly what I’ve been dealing with online from the left since the 70’s. And will doubtless deal with in this very thread. Just sit back and wait for it.

    OK, that rather large point aside, what points did Biden use the bully pulpit to impart?

    Lies.

    The very first exchange in the debate I consider emblematic.

    VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey. In fact —

    MS. RADDATZ: And why is that so?

    VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Because not a single thing he said is accurate. First of all —

    MS. RADDATZ: Be specific.

    VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I will be very specific. Number one, the — this lecture on embassy security — the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece.

    Now, we saw the same claim from Katrina vanden Heuvel who is the editor, publisher, and part-owner of the leftist rag, The Nation in Face The Nation this morning. So obviously, this lie is going to be a meme going forward from the left. But lie it is.

    Now, it’s true… Ryan DID in fact vote against that funding. And good for him and us.

    But not so fast. Transcripts are not out on it, yet, (I gather they take weeks to produce… Governmental efficiency again) …but apparently Biden’s never heard of Darryl Issa, and the hearing last Tuesday as regards the security in Benghazi and the Obama-created disaster it was, and remains. Nor has vanden Heuvel Perhaps Biden and vanden Heuvel missed the hearing being held on the topic of the Security in Benghazi, and the disaster the Obama administration made of it.

    I sat and listened to the Issa hearing, the whole thing… and can tell you that the question as asked of the head of that division of the State Dept in charge of that security…. Words to the effect… Did Fiscal constraints cause security gaps? And the director… Lamb, I think her name was, was forced to answer “no”.

    Now, Joe, say it with me… “So much for the embassy security piece.”

    Look, gang… That Biden did what he did should have been a surprise to absolutely nobody. In the end the only thing that’s going to do is widen the gap between Obama and reelection

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0