Massachusetts Democrats were more enthusiastic about Joe Biden's vice presidential debate performance than Bay State Republicans were about Paul Ryan's performance: that's the major finding of the Red and Blue Commonwealth flash polls sent out to local politicos immediately after the debate ended Thursday night.
Biden and Ryan faced off on Thursday, Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, with ABC News' Martha Raddatz moderating the debate that covered both domestic and foreign policy.
Of the 14 local influential Democrats who took the survey, 12 of them (85.7 percent) voted that Biden won by a large margin, with one voting that the current vice president won by a slim margin and one voting "neutral."
Meanwhile, of the 25 local influential Republicans who took the survey, seven of them (28 percent) voted that Ryan won by a large margin, with 13 (52 percent) voting that the congressman won by a slim margin. Five Republicans voted "neutral."
That's a switch from the presidential debate on Oct. 3, when in similar flash polls by Patch, local Democrats were less enthusiastic about President Barack Obama's performance and local Republicans were more enthusiastic about Gov. Mitt Romney's performance.
Asked who would be the consensus "winner" as declared by the national media, Democrats were unanimous in voting that Biden would be declared the winner, with 10 voting it'd be by a wide margin and four voting it'd be by a slim margin.
Republicans were almost evenly divided on who the national media would declare the consensus winner: seven voted it'd be Ryan by a slim margin, seven voted it'd be Biden by slim margin, seven voted "neutral" and four voted it'd be Biden by a wide margin.
What Moment Stood Out?
Asked for a moment that will stand out in the minds of conservatives in Massachusetts, many of the local Republicans who took the flash poll took issue with Biden's demeanor and behavior during the debate, during which the vice president laughed and smiled during some of Ryan's answers. Several characterized his behavior as "disrespectful" and "rude."
"Biden was incredibly rude and condescending throughout the debate," wrote one Republican respondent. "His demeanor—the smirking and eye rolling—was offensive."
Others focused on Ryan's behavior in contrast to Biden's, which Republicans characterized as "cool and collected," "composure" and "honest, sincere."
Democratic respondents focused on the debate's exchanges on the economy and taxes when asked for a moment that will stand out in the minds of liberals and progressives in Massachusetts. Some chose Biden raising Romney's "47 percent" comment caught on tape, while others focused on Biden's exchange over the economy and taxes, saying "still no specifics" and "the R's math does not add up."
Two people chose Biden's line, "Now you're Jack Kennedy?" in response to Ryan mentioning tax cuts passed under John F. Kennedy.
A few Democratic respondents expressed concern that Biden's "laughter" and "arrogance" would stand out in the mind of Massachusetts' swing voters, but others characterized the vice president's demeanor as aggressive: "Joe Biden calling out Paul Ryan's malarkey" and "Joe putting Ryan on the defensive" were two respondent's comments.
Other Democrats focused on economic issues, from the "47 percent" comment to Romney and Ryan's tax plan.
Most Republican respondents stuck with Biden's "boorish and bizarre" behavior, as one respondent put it, when asked what moment would stand out for Bay State swing voters.
"Paul Ryan's comments on Romney's bipartisianship," one Republican respondent wrote. "Also, no matter who you were, Biden's smirking was something you couldn't ignore. I don't think anybody liked it."
Two Republicans also focused on Ryan's statements regarding Social Security and Medicare.
Democrats Bullish on Biden's Effect on Mass. Votes, Republicans Lukewarm on Ryan's Effect
Most of the local Democrats surveyed said Biden's performance would increase the number of votes Obama gets in Massachusetts, with nine strongly agreeing it would increase Obama's Bay State votes and four somewhat agreeing. One somewhat disagreed Biden helped bolster Obama's Massachusetts vote totals.
Republicans were somewhat split when asked if Ryan's performance would increase the number of votes Romney gets in Massachusetts. Two strongly agreed it would and 11 somewhat agreed, while eight were neutral, three somewhat disagreed and one strongly disagreed.
In closing opinions, Democrats gave favorable reviews to Biden's performance, saying he spoke with "passion and caring," that he "trounced" Ryan and that he "referred more to fact than did Ryan." They also gave favorable reviews to the debate as whole, calling it "thoughtful," "heavy on policy and specifics" and lauding Raddatz's performance as moderator.
"Biden owned this debate. Paul Ryan came across as evasive, dogmatic and amateurish," one Democratic respondent wrote.
Some Republicans weren't as happy with Raddatz's job as moderator, saying she "allowed so much interruptions by Biden" and that her "raising abortion issue appeared to be a 'set-up.'"
Others praised Ryan, saying he did a "great job of sticking to the issues that matter the most," that he "gave a sincere, factual debate" and was "very gentleman-like and much better spoken than I anticipated."
One Republican respondent said that Biden "probably succeeded" in bolstering the Democratic base.
"But Biden’s statements will not survive a thorough fact check," the respondent continued. "Ryan was polite, he made his points despite being interrupted, he said the things he needed to say to continue making the case that the Obama administration is a failure. Ryan was a bit too deferential, nevertheless he held his own and succeeded preventing the tide which is definitely moving in the Romney/Ryan direction."
Who do you think won the debate? Tell us in the comments below.
Red and Blue Commonwealth Surveys
Our surveys are not a scientific, random sample of any larger population, but rather an effort to listen to a group of influential local Republican activists, party leaders, candidates and elected officials in Massachusetts. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in Massachusetts' Patch's surveys, although not all responded to this story's questions.
Patch will be conducting Red Commonwealth and Blue Commonwealth surveys throughout the 2012 election season in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in Massachusetts. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in periodic surveys that last just a few minutes, please contact Associate Regional Editor Daniel DeMaina at firstname.lastname@example.org.