Tim Kaine Matches Mike Pence in Lackluster Initial Ratings

Tim Kaine Matches Mike Pence in Lackluster Initial Ratings

Tim Kaine Matches Mike Pence in Lackluster Initial Ratings

The FINANCIAL -- 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.

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, according to Gallup.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.