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Tim Kaine Matches Mike Pence in Lackluster Initial Ratings

Tim Kaine Matches Mike Pence in Lackluster Initial Ratings

Story Highlights

  • 35% of voters call Kaine an excellent or pretty good choice
  • Somewhat more, 49%, rate him only fair or poor
  • Few know Kaine well enough to rate him personally

PRINCETON, N.J. -- U.S. voters' initial reaction to Hillary Clinton's selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate is similar to their muted response to Donald Trump's selection of Mike Pence a week ago. Thirty-five percent say Kaine is an "excellent" or "pretty good" choice, nearly matching the 37% who said the same of Pence just after Trump chose him.

U.S. Registered Voters' Reaction to Hillary Clinton's Choice of Tim Kaine for Vice President
How would you rate Hillary Clinton's choice of Tim Kaine for vice president? Would you rate this choice as -- excellent, pretty good, only fair or poor?
Excellent/Pretty good Only fair/Poor No opinion
% % %
2016: Tim Kaine 35 49 15
For comparison:
2016: Mike Pence 37 45 18
2012: Paul Ryan 39 45 16
2008: Sarah Palin 46 37 17
2008: Joe Biden 47 33 20
2004: John Edwards 64 28 8
2000: Joe Lieberman 53 28 19
2000: Dick Cheney 55 34 11
Gallup, July 23-24, 2016

Forty-nine percent have a middling or negative reaction to Kaine in the July 23-24 poll, rating him "only fair" or "poor," again similar to voters' first reaction to Pence.

Democrats Mostly Fine With Kaine

Despite some discussion in the news that Kaine may not be liberal enough to satisfy Bernie Sanders supporters, just 3% of Democratic registered voters currently consider Kaine a poor choice. Instead, with more than six in 10 of these Democrats rating Kaine an excellent or pretty good choice, his party seems largely on board with him at the outset.

Still, fewer than three in 10 Democrats consider Kaine an excellent choice while slightly more consider him pretty good -- a relatively restrained reaction to the Virginia senator from his own party, on par with Republicans' initial reaction to Pence.

U.S. Voters' Reaction to Tim Kaine as Clinton's VP Choice, by Party ID
Excellent Pretty good Only fair Poor No opinion
% % % % %
U.S. registered voters 13 22 30 19 15
Democrats 29 33 25 3 10
Independents 9 23 31 23 14
Republicans 2 13 32 31 23
(Reaction to Mike Pence, July 15-16, 2016)
U.S. registered voters 13 24 23 22 18
Republicans 27 40 17 5 13
Independents 9 21 28 21 22
Democrats 4 10 26 42 18
Gallup, July 23-24, 2016

Six in 10 Voters Not Familiar With Kaine

More than six in 10 Americans (61%) have either never heard of Kaine or don't know enough about him to have an opinion in the new survey, similar to the 62% for Pence last week.

The remaining voters are a bit more likely to have a favorable (24%) than unfavorable (15%) opinion of Kaine. This is just slightly more positive than Pence's initial favorability scores.

U.S. Registered Voters' Impressions of Tim Kaine
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Tim Kaine, or have you never heard of him?
Favorable Unfavorable Never heard of No opinion
% % % %
2016: Tim Kaine 24 15 41 20
For comparison:
2016: Mike Pence 21 18 44 18
2012: Paul Ryan 27 21 32 21
2008: Sarah Palin 22 7 51 20
2008: Joe Biden 34 15 23 28
2004: John Edwards 54 16 12 18
2000: Joe Lieberman 37 10 24 29
2000: Dick Cheney 51 11 7 31
1996: Jack Kemp 56 14 10 20
1992: Al Gore 59 13 -- 28
Gallup, July 23-24, 2016

Kaine Neither Attracts Nor Repels Many Voters

In line with his low public profile, Kaine's inclusion on the Democratic ticket is not causing voters to rethink their willingness to vote for Clinton -- one of the most well-known public figures in the country. Slightly more say having Kaine as her running mate makes them more likely to vote for Clinton rather than less likely, 12% vs. 9%, but three-quarters say he won't affect their vote. These figures are almost identical to how voters said Pence would affect their chances of backing Trump.

Effect of Tim Kaine on Likelihood of Voting for Hillary Clinton in November
Does having Tim Kaine as her running mate make you more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, less likely or will it not have much effect on your vote?
More likely Less likely No effect Net "more likely"
% % % pct. pts.
2016: Tim Kaine 12 9 77 4
For comparison:
2016: Mike Pence 14 10 74 4
2012: Paul Ryan 17 13 68 4
2008: Sarah Palin 18 11 67 7
2008: Joe Biden 14 7 72 7
2004: John Edwards 24 7 66 17
2000: Joe Lieberman 16 4 76 12
2000: Dick Cheney 14 10 72 4
1996: Jack Kemp 26 8 63 18
1992: Al Gore 33 8 57 25
1988: Lloyd Bentsen § 26 9 60 17
1988: Dan Quayle ^ 10 10 73 0
§ Time magazine poll; ^ USA Today poll; NOTE: all vice presidential nominees shown are non-incumbents
Gallup, July 23-24, 2016

Also mirroring the immediate reaction to Pence, Kaine earns middling ratings in voter perceptions that he is qualified to serve as president should it ever become necessary -- ratings that are generally worse than those of vice presidential choices in prior years. While 47% of registered voters say he is qualified, 32% believe he is not and about one-fifth are unsure.

U.S. Voters' Perceptions of Tim Kaine as Qualified to Serve as President
Based on what you know about Tim Kaine, do you think he is qualified to serve as president if it becomes necessary, or not?
Yes, qualified No, not No opinion
% % %
2016: Tim Kaine 47 32 21
For comparison:
2016: Mike Pence 46 33 22
2012: Paul Ryan 50 31 19
2008: Sarah Palin 39 33 29
2008: Joe Biden 57 18 26
2004: John Edwards 57 29 14
2000: Joe Lieberman 52 13 35
2000: Dick Cheney 57 18 25
1996: Al Gore 60 34 6
1996: Jack Kemp 61 16 23
1992: Al Gore 64 19 17
Gallup, July 23-24, 2016

Bottom Line

Voters' initial reaction to Kaine as Clinton's running mate suggests she has successfully chosen someone who, at a bare minimum, will do her candidacy no harm. While about a third consider Kaine an excellent or good choice for vice president, few -- including almost no Democrats -- think he is a poor choice. However, Kaine is still largely unknown to the majority of voters, highlighting the important role this week's Democratic National Convention will have in establishing his public identity.

More broadly, Kaine is now the third consecutive newly named vice presidential pick -- after Pence and the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan -- to garner mediocre initial ratings from voters. By contrast, the five such nominees preceding them between 2000 and 2008 were viewed much more positively. This could partly reflect the relatively low profiles that Kaine, Pence and Ryan all had before being hand-picked for the vice presidential slot on their party's ticket -- although that didn't prevent Sarah Palin from making a good first impression in 2008. Nevertheless, voters may not have much more than their partisanship to draw on in evaluating Pence and Kaine. And in an era when voters appear unwilling to say anything positive about the opposing party, their first impressions are mediocre at best.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 23-24, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 937 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of registered voters, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

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