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Election 2016
Mike Pence Shows Greater Gains in Favorability Than Tim Kaine
Election 2016

Mike Pence Shows Greater Gains in Favorability Than Tim Kaine

by Art Swift
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • 36% of Americans have favorable impression of Mike Pence
  • 33% have favorable opinion of Tim Kaine
  • Republicans' views of Pence more positive than Democrats' views of Kaine

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Since their respective selections as vice presidential candidates, both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine have become much better known nationwide, but Pence's image has grown significantly more positive over this time than has been the case for Kaine. As of now, Republicans are embracing Pence more than Democrats are embracing Kaine.

Americans' Impressions of Vice Presidential Candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine
% Favorable
  Pre-convention Post-convention
  % %
Mike Pence 18 36
Tim Kaine 24 33
Gallup, July 15-16 (Pence), July 23-24 (Kaine) and August 3-7 (both), 2016

At this stage in the previous campaigns, most non-incumbent vice presidential candidates had substantially higher favorable ratings than Kaine and Pence do. Al Gore was at 62% favorable at this point in 1992; Jack Kemp was at 56% in 1996; Dick Cheney was at 51% and Joe Lieberman was at 55% in 2000; and John Edwards was at 59% in 2004. Gallup did not have polling for Joe Biden and Sarah Palin at this point in August in 2008 or for Paul Ryan in 2012.

Both Pence's favorable and unfavorable ratings have risen, while the percentage of those who have never heard of him or have no opinion has dropped from 65% before the Republican convention to 39%. His favorable rating has gone up more than his unfavorable rating. The Indiana governor received some nationwide media attention last year for signing a "religious freedom" law that LGBT Indianans sharply criticized, and was facing a difficult gubernatorial re-election campaign before GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump chose him to be his running mate.

Americans' Impressions of Mike Pence
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Mike Pence, or have you never heard of him?
  Favorable Unfavorable Never heard of/No opinion Net favorable
  % % % pct. pts.
Aug 3-7, 2016 36 25 39 +11
Jul 15-16, 2016 18 16 65 +2

Trump has garnered many headlines since the conventions, including his pronouncements about the Muslim family whose Army captain son was killed in Iraq, the tensions between him and House Speaker Paul Ryan, and whether nuclear weapons can or should be used. The conciliatory statements Pence made may be seen as an attempt to assuage the situation by endorsing Ryan days before Trump did and by sympathizing with the soldier's family. Yet while Trump's statements have not helped his own favorable ratings, Pence has gained substantially in net favorability -- the percentage with a positive opinion of him minus the percentage with a negative opinion.

Americans Quickly Forming Impressions of Pence; Republicans Embracing Him

Pence is better known and liked across key subgroups than he was before the Republican convention, especially among members of his own Republican Party.

Sixty-four percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of Pence, up from 40% in mid-July. He has risen to 33% favorability among independents and even has a 17% score among Democrats, up from a paltry 5% in July.

Impressions of Mike Pence, by Subgroup
% Favorable
  Jul 15-16, 2016 Aug 3-7, 2016
  % %
Republicans 40 64
Independents 14 33
Democrats 5 17

Kaine's Favorable Ratings See Slower Rise

Americans' overall image of Kaine has become somewhat more negative since the beginning of the Democratic convention, contrasting with Pence's more positive movement. The U.S. senator from Virginia and former Virginia governor has a favorable rating of 33%, up from 24% before the convention. But his unfavorable rating has increased from 14% to 30%. Kaine's running mate, Hillary Clinton, has been much more low-key in her public appearances and statements than Trump has been in the last several weeks, with less controversy surrounding the Democratic campaign.

Americans' 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 Net favorable
  % % % pct. pts.
Aug 3-7, 2016 33 30 37 +3
Jul 23-24, 2016 24 14 63 +10

As was true of Pence, a large share of Americans, 63%, had not heard of or had no opinion of Kaine at the time of his selection as a vice presidential candidate. In Gallup's early August poll, the percentage unfamiliar with Kaine has dropped to 37%. But while Pence has been able to convert proportionately more of those unfamiliar with him to a positive opinion, Kaine has had a proportionately greater gain in those having a negative opinion of him. As a result, Pence's net favorable is currently +11, compared with +3 for Kaine.

Among subgroups, Kaine has made gains, but these have been modest. Only among Democrats does Kaine have a majority favorable rating, at 54%, but this is worse than Pence's 64% favorable rating among Republicans. It is possible that Bernie Sanders voters may have wished that Clinton picked a more liberal running mate, and they are still holding that against Kaine.

Impressions of Tim Kaine, by Subgroup
% Favorable
  Jul 23-24, 2016 Aug 3-7, 2016
  % %
Republicans 7 19
Independents 22 28
Democrats 42 54

Bottom Line

The American public is getting to know Pence and Kaine. The vice presidential nominees' favorable ratings are rising, but Pence's gains have been more substantial than Kaine's since their respective nominating conventions. In the next three months, the American people will continue to form opinions of Kaine and Pence, and their images may be affected by the forthcoming vice presidential debate on Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Virginia.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 3-7, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,032 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, 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 Poll Social Series works.

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