What voters want in a VP

Posted at 7:07 AM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 07:07:54-04

The next big milestone in the presidential election will come when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump select their running mates, and speculation about who they might choose is rampant. A new CNN/ORC poll finds the Republican electorate largely wants to see Trump select someone who can boost either his military or political credentials, and few would be swayed by the selection of a woman to join either ticket.

The survey finds just a handful of Republican voters want their presumptive nominee to choose someone just like him. Just 8% say they’d like to see Trump select someone with a background in the business world, while the rest are divided between a running mate with experience in the military (47% would prefer that) or in politics (43% prefer a politician).

Trump’s supporters in the party are a bit more likely to say he should choose someone with military experience — 49% say so vs. 41% who prefer political experience, while those who would rather see someone else heading the GOP are more evenly divided between a political (46%) or military (44%) running mate.

Republican women are a bit less apt than GOP men to trust Trump to handle the responsibilities of commander-in-chief, according to CNN/ORC poll results released Tuesday, and GOP women are also more likely to say Trump should choose someone with military experience (51% say so vs. 43% among GOP-leaning men).

One candidate with political experience who may be under consideration as Trump’s running mate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, hasn’t done much to improve his standing in the public eye since his run for the GOP nomination ended earlier this year. Overall, 35% have a favorable impression of him, down from 41% in January. Among Republicans, his favorability rating has held roughly steady over that same time — 57% favorable in January and 54% now.

The poll also finds that House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012 who will preside over the GOP convention next month, is viewed positively by Republicans who support Trump (55% have a positive impression) as well as those who would rather see someone else atop the ticket (65% favorable).

On the Democratic side, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes frequent appearances on handicappers’ lists of possible picks for Clinton, largely on the strength of her sharp attacks on Trump and her ability to appeal to the more liberal Democratic voters who supported Bernie Sanders. But the Democratic electorate isn’t sold on Warren as the ideal running mate for Clinton; just 34% say Clinton ought to select Warren while 54% say they’d rather see someone else share the ticket with Clinton.

Warren is viewed favorably by a narrow majority of Democrats — 51% have a positive impression, 14% an unfavorable one and 35% aren’t sure — but her appeal is slightly larger among those already behind Clinton (54% have a favorable view) than among those who would rather see Sanders as the party’s nominee (48% favorable). Nationwide, she’s less well known: 40% of voters say they haven’t heard of her or don’t have an opinion, while those who do have an impression are about evenly divided, 31% favorable to 29% unfavorable.

In an election year when the politics of gender have been front and center, voters are largely agreed that they won’t be swayed by the gender of any vice presidential selection. Almost 9 in 10 say that if Trump or Clinton were to choose a woman as their running mate, it wouldn’t impact their vote either way.

Clinton is poised to become the first woman to lead a major party ticket at next month’s Democratic convention, and more say they would be dissuaded from backing her if she chose a woman (10%) than said they would be more likely to back her if she chose a female candidate (4%). For Trump, whose challenges with female voters have produced a nearly 20-point gender gap in overall presidential preferences, choosing a female running mate would be largely a wash: 6% say it would make them more likely to back him, 4% less likely.

But among movable voters, that is those who say their minds could change between now and November, a female running mate is more of an asset for Trump. In that group, 12% say Trump’s choice of a female running mate would make them more likely to back him, 3% less likely to support him. That group tilts the other way on Clinton and is not much different from other voters on this question, with 9% saying they’d be less likely to back Clinton with a female running mate and 3% more likely to.

The CNN/ORC poll was conducted by telephone June 16-19 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The poll includes interviews with 891 registered voters. Results for registered voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.