|With the presidential nominations in place, speculation about potential running-mates has ramped up considerably. The Monmouth University Poll tested 12 possible vice presidential picks – six from each party – and found that most would have no appreciable impact on voter support. Two names do stand out, however: Bernie Sanders, who could attract undecided voters to the Democratic column, and Sarah Palin, who could potentially hurt the GOP ticket.
Scores of names have been mentioned as possible running mates for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The Monmouth University Poll decided to test 12 of them – six Democrats and six Republicans – for their ability to attract voters to the parties’ respective tickets. On the Democratic side, only Sanders, Clinton’s primary opponent, registers any notable impact. Overall, 39% of voters nationwide say they would be more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket with the Vermont Senator as Clinton’s running mate compared to 20% who would be less likely to support this pairing. Among those voters who are currently undecided or are leaning toward supporting a third party candidate, fully 50% say they would be more likely to support Clinton if Sanders is her vice presidential nominee and just 16% say they would be less likely to vote for this ticket.
Only one name stands out on the Republican side too, but not in a good way. If Trump chooses former Alaska Governor and 2008 VP nominee Sarah Palin as his running mate, just 13% of registered voters nationwide say they would be more likely to vote for the Republican ticket, but 42% say they would actually be less likely. Among voters who are currently undecided or are leaning toward supporting a third party ticket, just 7% say they would be more likely to support Trump if Palin is his vice presidential nominee while a majority of 54% say they would be less likely to vote for this ticket.
“These findings are based in large part on name recognition, but the results do underscore one key truth about vice presidential nominees. They usually do not have a significant impact on the national electorate. At best, they can help with a specific constituency or in a key state. At worst, they can demonstrate poor decision-making on the part of a person who aspires to be leader of the free world,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Among other possible Democratic running mate choices for Clinton, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren would have a slight net positive effect (24% more likely and 21% less likely among all voters and 25% more likely and 22% less likely among uncommitted voters). Four other possibilities tested would have a negligible to slightly negative impact; including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (13%-13% all voters and 14%-15% uncommitted); Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (9%-13% all voters and 10%-12% uncommitted); Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (10%-17% all voters and 14%-16% uncommitted); and Minnesota Senator Al Franken (12%-21% all voters and 15%-21% uncommitted).
Among other possible Republican contenders tested in the poll, only former Trump challenger Florida Senator Marco Rubio registered a net positive impact for the ticket, with 27% of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for the GOP ticket with Rubio as VP and 20% saying they would be less likely. Among voters who are currently uncommitted to either of the two major party slates, Rubio would make 26% more likely and 21% less likely to vote Republican.
“You have to wonder what may have happened if Rubio had not changed his mind about running for re-election to his senate seat. While there is no love lost between the two, perhaps these poll numbers would have led Trump to take a second look at ‘Little Marco’. But probably not,” said Murray.
Two other senators would have minimal impact on support for Trump if they were chosen as his VP – Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (9% more likely and 17% less likely among all voters and 10% more likely and 13% less likely among uncommitted voters) and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst (7%-15% all voters and 8%-14% uncommitted). Two other possibilities would have a net negative impact among uncommitted voters if chosen: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (24%-26% all voters and 19%-29% uncommitted) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (20%-28% all voters and 15%-36% uncommitted).
Obama / Congress ratings
President Barack Obama currently earns a 49% approve and 46% disapprove job rating from voters nationwide. Nearly 9-in-10 Democrats (88%) approve and about the same number of Republicans (89%) disapprove. Independents are split – 46% approve and 47% disapprove. The results are similar to Monmouth’s March poll when Obama received a 48% approve to 45% disapprove voter rating.
Ratings of Congress stand at 17% approve and 76% disapprove, which is largely unchanged from results over the past two years.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 15 to 19, 2016 with 803 registered voters in the United States. The results in this release have a margin of error of + 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.