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U.S. Opinion on Pence Remains Divided

U.S. Opinion on Pence Remains Divided

Story Highlights

  • About one in six Americans (16%) have no opinion of the vice president
  • Trump has a similar favorable rating, but higher unfavorable
  • Clinton, Gore also had similar average favorable ratings while in office

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans remain as likely to view Vice President Mike Pence favorably (43%) as unfavorably (42%), while 16% have no opinion of him -- a trend that hasn't changed since Pence took office in January 2017.

Line graph, favorability ratings of Mike Pence from July 2016 to September 2018, current favorability and unfavorability are 43% and 42%, respectively.

The latest ratings are from Gallup's annual Governance poll, conducted Sept. 4-12.

Pence was unknown by nearly two-thirds of the country when Gallup first asked about him in July 2016, after then-candidate Donald Trump announced the Indiana governor as his running mate. Pence's high unfamiliarity resulted in an overall favorable rating of 18% at the time.

But over the course of the presidential campaign, both Pence's favorable and unfavorable ratings grew as he became better known to Americans. In a poll conducted immediately before the 2016 election, 46% of Americans viewed Pence favorably and 32% unfavorably. In the same poll, Trump had a 34% favorable rating and a 62% unfavorable rating. While Trump's favorable rating improved after he won the election and is now similar to Pence's, the vice president's unfavorable rating continues to be much lower than Trump's.

Both men have averaged 42% favorable ratings since their inauguration in January 2017. But Pence's rating is better on a net basis (favorable minus unfavorable ratings) given an average 42% unfavorable rating (accompanied by 16% no opinion), compared with an average 56% unfavorable rating for Trump (and 2% no opinion).

Do Sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents Typically Get the Same Ratings?

Gallup historically has measured Americans' opinions of presidents far more than their opinions of vice presidents. As a rule, Americans are much more likely to say they have no opinion of the vice president, while relatively few have no opinion of the president.

A review of the average image ratings for the past four presidents and vice presidents shows a mixed pattern.

Barack Obama had a slightly higher net favorable rating (+9) than Joe Biden (+6). George W. Bush's net rating (+14) was six points higher than Dick Cheney's (+8), while Bill Clinton (+17) had a lower net favorable rating than his vice president, Al Gore (+21).

Trump's average net favorable image (-14) is currently much more negative than Pence's (0).

Average Net Favorable Ratings of Presidents and Vice Presidents While in Office
Average favorable Average unfavorable Net favorable
% % pct. pts.
President Donald Trump 42 56 -14
Vice President Mike Pence 42 42 0
President Barack Obama 53 44 +9
Vice President Joe Biden 46 40 +6
President George W. Bush 56 42 +14
Vice President Dick Cheney 49 41 +8
President Bill Clinton 57 40 +17
Vice President Al Gore 56 35 +21
No data available for Dick Cheney's final year in office

Bottom Line

Pence so far maintains a significantly higher net favorable image than Trump. That breaks the pattern of the previous two administrations, in which the president had at least a slightly more positive image than his vice president -- and represents a much bigger gap than the modestly more positive image Gore maintained over Clinton.

If these trends continue throughout the current administration's time in power, the highest and second-highest officials in government could leave the White House with the lowest average favorable ratings in modern political history.

The public's views of the president and vice president have been declining since Clinton and Gore were in office, and Trump and Pence could be the first duo to not hit 50% favorability if their images don't improve.

How little Pence's and Trump's ratings have varied is also unique. Most presidents and vice presidents in the past few administrations have seen favorable ratings that have differed by 10 percentage points or more by this point in their first terms -- the exception being Biden, whose ratings barely moved in his first year and a half in office.

View complete question responses and trends.

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