Post-Debate Vice Presidential Images: A Bump For Biden?

October 17, 2012, 1:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 10/13/2012) Last week’s Vice Presidential debate underscored the competitiveness of this year’s presidential election: in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, the debate came close to being a draw in the eyes of the public, though Vice President Joe Biden edged out Republican nominee Congressman Paul Ryan when Americans were asked "who won" the debate.

Among those who watched the whole debate, 42% thought Biden won and 39% thought Ryan won.

On other measures, results were even closer to a draw: registered voters were evenly divided when it came to whether Biden and Ryan are qualified to be effective presidents, should that become necessary. More voters had an opinion about Biden but, in both cases, voters were divided about whether the two men are qualified to serve effectively as President.

The debate drew large numbers of viewers from both sides of the political divide. Just over half of those who said they were voting for the Republican ticket this fall, and nearly half of those who said they would be voting for the Democratic ticket, claimed to have watched the entire vice presidential debate. And their reactions were predictable: 77% of Obama supporters believed Biden had done the better job during the debate, while 64% of Romney voters thought Ryan had.

Nearly half in this mainly partisan crowd of viewers claimed their minds had not been changed about either Biden or Ryan during the debate, though more said their opinion of Biden had changed — and as often for the worse as for the better. Those who said the debate altered their opinions of the Republican Vice Presidential nominee were twice as likely to say they had gotten more favorable as less favorable.

Much of the anti-Biden response came from those supporting Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign spearheaded criticism of Biden for his demeanor during the debate — and Romney supporters were just as likely to say their opinion of Biden had gotten less favorable during the debate as to say their opinion of Ryan had improved. Obama supporters were twice as likely to say the debate made them feel better about Biden as to say it made them more negative towards Ryan.

And, among registered voters overall, opinions of Biden have changed somewhat for the better. Last week, before the debate, 44% of registered voters held a favorable opinion of the Vice President, while about half were negative. Now, that balance has tilted in Biden’s direction: by 51% to 46%, registered voters are positive about him. Voter opinion remains more closely divided when it comes to views of Ryan.