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No Consensus Favorite Among Republicans for McCain VP

Former rivals Huckabee, Romney most often mentioned

PRINCETON, NJ -- At this early point in the process, Republicans do not have a clear favorite as to whom they would most want to see as John McCain's vice presidential running mate.

Nomination also-rans Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney receive the most mentions when Republicans are asked whom they would most like to see as McCain's vice presidential running mate, at 18% and 15%, respectively. It is common for candidates who come up short for the presidential nomination to be strongly considered for the vice presidential spot on the ticket, and John Edwards in 2004, George H.W. Bush in 1980, and Lyndon Johnson in 1960 are some of the former presidential candidates who accepted the vice presidential spot after losing out for the presidential nomination.

The unsuccessful candidates' names may also be the most top-of-mind when respondents answer the question, given their visibility while campaigning for the nomination.

In fact, five of the top six names on the list of suggested vice presidential candidates for McCain actively campaigned against him for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination -- Fred Thompson, Ron Paul, and Rudy Giuliani join Huckabee and Romney among the most frequently mentioned names. The only non-candidate among these is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

A few Democrats were mentioned by at least 1% of respondents, including McCain ally Joe Lieberman (who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 as an independent but who was a Democrat prior to that), John Edwards, and Bill Richardson. Though McCain has consistently worked with Democrats during his time in the Senate, there is some pressure on him to choose a conservative Republican to shore up his support among the right wing of the party.

Also, about one in three Republicans, 31%, could not think of any specific person they would like McCain to pick.

Conservative and moderate or liberal Republicans do not differ much in their choices -- Huckabee, Romney, and Rice are the top three candidates among both groups (Florida Gov. Charlie Crist ties Rice for third among moderates/liberals). The main difference is that moderate or liberal Republicans are less likely to supply a name of a favored vice presidential pick.

There are differences by religiosity, however. Republicans who attend church weekly rate Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, as the top choice, with 29% choosing him compared to 19% who choose Romney. Among Republicans who attend religious services less often, Romney gets slightly more mentions in the poll than Rice, with Huckabee getting the third most.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interviews with 453 Republicans and Republican leaners, aged 18 and older, conducted March 24-27, 2008. Gallup Panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


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