WASHINGTON -- Joe Biden is beating Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the vice presidential debate in the first 30 minutes, according to an instant survey of a panel of debate viewers. The audience polled said that Biden was winning by a 63-37 margin.
Thursday night's debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky., is critical for President Barack Obama's campaign, looking to rebound from Obama's debate thumping in Denver at the hands of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The survey, conducted for HuffPost by OverTheShoulder.com, is dubbed a "Smartphone Town Hall" and draws on a sample of more than 300 voters from across the political spectrum. The members of the panel are watching the debate live and answering questions sent to their phones.
Clarification: Although participants for the survey were recruited from around the country, the survey was not a random sample, nor should it be considered representative of the U.S. population or debate watchers.
Roughly the first 20 minutes of the debate focused on foreign policy and national security, a comfort zone for Biden, and something Ryan has spent little time on. Still, the Obama campaign has been on its heels since a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya killed the U.S. ambassador there. The debate then moved to domestic policy, and Biden immediately lit into Ryan over Romney's 47 percent comments.
Thirty minutes into last week's debate, a similar panel was reporting that Romney was pulling ahead -- with nearly a third of likely Obama voters giving the nod to Romney, a sign that things were headed in his direction. By the end of the debate, before listening to any post-debate spin, the panel decided that Romney had won by a 57-43 margin, with nearly half of Obama backers giving it to Romney.
Half an hour into the debate Thursday night, the panel was asked three questions:
Based on your first impression of the very little you've seen so far, who's ahead in this debate right now?
Which candidate seems most relaxed to you?
Which candidate seems to be controlling the stage most?
Over The Shoulder generally focuses on large, instant focus groups for corporate clients.
A separate panel of several hundred HuffPost readers is also watching the debate live and responding to questions. Those results will be available after the debate.