Edwards Pick Compares Favorably With Recent Vice Presidential Candidates

by David W. Moore

About 9 in 10 Democrats "satisfied"; 4 in 10 "enthusiastic"

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- An instant-reaction poll conducted last night finds the vast majority of Democratic voters satisfied with Sen. John Kerry's choice of North Carolina Sen. John Edwards to be the Democratic Party's vice presidential candidate -- including more than 4 in 10 who say they are "enthusiastic." About half of Republican voters are also satisfied. Kerry's choice of Edwards is rated more positively than the vice presidential choices that George W. Bush and Al Gore made in 2000. Voters see Edwards' limited experience as a weakness, while they view his trial lawyer experience as a strength.

The major findings of the CNN/USA Today/Gallup instant reaction poll are as follows:

  • More than half of registered voters, 54%, rate Edwards favorably, compared with 50% who rate Kerry favorably, 53% Bush, and 43% Vice President Dick Cheney.

When asked how they would rate Kerry's choice of Edwards as vice president, 64% of registered voters say either "excellent" or "pretty good," while just 28% say "only fair" or "poor." In 2000, the comparable figures for Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman were 53% positive to 28% negative, and for Cheney 55% to 34%.

  • Voters' feelings about Edwards appear to be little changed from when they were measured two weeks ago. Among all registered voters, 70% say they are satisfied, including 22% who are enthusiastic. In a June 21-23 poll, which included a description of Edwards, 73% said they would be satisfied if he were selected as Kerry's vice president -- including 25% who said they would be enthusiastic.

  • Among Democrats, 88% say they are "satisfied" (48%) or "enthusiastic" (40%) with Kerry's choice.
  • Among Republicans, 49% are at least satisfied, including only 3% who are enthusiastic.

  • Most voters, 66%, say Kerry's choice of Edwards will not affect their vote. But 24% of voters say they are more likely to support the Democratic ticket now that Edwards is Kerry's running mate, while 7% say they are less likely. That 17-point differential compares favorably with the 12-point differential measured for Lieberman and the 4-point differential measured for Cheney in 2000.
  • Also, 45% of voters say they will pay more attention to the vice presidential candidates this year than in the past.
  • A clear majority of voters, 57%, believe Edwards is qualified to serve as president, should he need to do so. That is the same percentage who said Cheney was qualified when Bush announced his vice presidential choice in 2000, and higher than the 52% who felt that about Lieberman. Gore and former Rep. Jack Kemp were viewed somewhat more positively in the 1996 election, and Gore tops the chart in the 1992 election. Only a third of voters in 1992 felt former Vice President Dan Quayle was qualified to serve as president.

  • The oft-stated observation by political pundits is that the choice of a running mate is the first significant decision a presumptive presidential nominee has to make. Most voters, 64%, believe Kerry's choice of Edwards reflects favorably on "Kerry's ability to make important presidential decisions," while just 24% say it reflects unfavorably. Bush's choice of Cheney in 2000 received a somewhat better rating (64% favorably to 15% unfavorably), while Gore's choice of Lieberman was slightly worse (57% to 19%). The elder Bush's choice of Quayle in 1988 was dimly viewed by a plurality of likely voters -- 46% unfavorably, 38% favorably.

Do you think John Kerry's choice of John Edwards reflects favorably or unfavorably on Kerry's ability to make important presidential decisions?

 

 

Favorably

Unfavorably

No opinion

       

2004 Jul 6

64%

24

12

Trends for Comparison:

 

 

Favorably

Unfavorably

No opinion

 

%

%

%

2000

     

Gore-Lieberman (2000 Aug 7)

57

19

24

Bush-Cheney (2000 Jul 24)

64

15

21

       

1992

     

Clinton-Gore (1992 Jul 8-9) ^

70

11

19

       

1988

     

Bush-Quayle (1988 Aug 29-30) †‡

38

46

16

       

^

Source: Time/CNN/Yankelovich Clancy Schulman poll.

Source: Time/Yankelovich Clancy Schulman poll.

Based on likely voters.

  • Republicans have already begun their criticisms of Edwards. Two criticisms include Edwards' limited experience in politics and his experience as a personal injury trial lawyer. The poll shows that a majority of voters view the limited political experience as a weakness, though only one in five think it is a "major" weakness. The poll also shows that Edwards' experience as a trial lawyer is viewed more positively, with a clear majority saying it is a strength.

Survey Methods

All results are based on telephone interviews with 553 registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted July 6, 2004, with all interviews completed by 8:50 p.m. Eastern time. For results based on the total sample of registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls. Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

1. First, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them. How about -- [ITEMS A-B READ IN ORDER, ITEMS C-D ROTATED]?

A. John Edwards

 

 


Favorable


Unfavorable

Never
heard of

No
opinion

         

2004 Jul 6

54%

16

12

18

B. Dick Cheney

 

 


Favorable


Unfavorable

Never
heard of

No
opinion

         

2004 Jul 6

43%

44

3

10

C. John Kerry

 

 


Favorable


Unfavorable

Never
heard of

No
opinion

         

2004 Jul 6

50%

41

1

8

D. George W. Bush

 

 


Favorable


Unfavorable

Never
heard of

No
opinion

         

2004 Jul 6

53%

44

*

3

* Less than 0.5%

As you may know, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has selected North Carolina Senator John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate.

2. How would you rate John Kerry's choice of John Edwards for vice president? Would you rate this choice as -- excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?

 

 


Excellent

Pretty
good

Only
fair


Poor

No
opinion

           

2004 Jul 6

28%

36

17

11

8

Trends for Comparison:

 

 


Excellent

Pretty
good

Only
fair


Poor

No
opinion

           

2000

         

Gore-Lieberman (2000 Aug 7)

18%

35

21

7

19

Bush-Cheney (2000 Jul 24)

10%

45

26

8

11

 

 

 

Excellent/
pretty good

Only fair/
poor

No
opinion

2004

%

%

%

Kerry-Edwards (2004 Jul 6)

64

28

8

       

2000

     

Gore-Lieberman (2000 Aug 7)

53

28

19

Bush-Cheney (2000 Jul 24)

55

34

11

       

1988

     

Bush-Quayle (1988 Aug 19-21) ^†

44

52

4

       

^

Source: Louis Harris and Associates.

Based on likely voters.

3. How do you feel about John Kerry's choice of John Edwards for vice president? Would you say you are -- enthusiastic, satisfied, but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied, but not angry, or angry?

 

 

Enthusiastic

Satisfied

Dissatisfied

Angry

No opinion

2004 Jul 6

%

%

%

%

%

Registered voters

22

48

18

1

11

RV Democrats/Democratic leaners

40

48

5

1

6

RV Republicans/Republican leaners

3

46

33

2

16

Trends for Comparison: As you may know, John Edwards has been a Senator from North Carolina for six years. Before he became a Senator, he was a trial lawyer and had never held elective office. While in the Senate, he has worked on a patient's bill of rights and prescription drug programs and served on the intelligence committee. Edwards ran for the Democratic nomination for president this year. If Kerry picks John Edwards as his running mate, would you be -- enthusiastic, satisfied, but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied, but not angry, or angry?

 

 

Enthusiastic

Satisfied

Dissatisfied

Angry

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Jun 21-23

         

Registered Voters

25

48

19

2

6

RV Democrats/Democratic Leaners

34

47

14

1

4

RV Republicans/Republican Leaners

15

49

25

3

8

4. Does having John Edwards as his running mate make you more likely to vote for John Kerry in November, less likely, or will it not have much effect on your vote?

 

 

More likely

Less likely

No effect

No opinion

         

2004 Jul 6

24%

7

66

3

Trends for Comparison:

 

 

More likely

Less likely

No effect

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2000

       

Gore-Lieberman (2000 Aug 7)

16

4

76

4

Bush-Cheney (2000 Jul 24)

14

10

72

4

         

1996

       

Dole-Kemp (1996 Aug 11)

26

8

63

3

         

1992

       

Clinton-Gore (1992 Jul 9) ^

33

8

57

2

Bush-Quayle (1992 Aug 10-12)

6

25

68

1

         

1988

       

Dukakis-Bentsen (1988 Aug) ^

26

9

60

5

Bush-Quayle (1988 Aug 17-18) ‡

10

10

73

7

         

^

Source: Time/CNN poll.

Source: Time poll.

Source: USA Today poll.

5. Based on what you know about John Edwards, do you think he is qualified to serve as president if it becomes necessary, or not?

 

 

Yes, qualified

No, not

No opinion

       

2004 Jul 6

57%

29

14

Trends for Comparison:

 

 

Yes, qualified

No, not

No opinion

 

%

%

%

2000

     

Lieberman (2000 Aug 7)

52

13

35

Cheney (2000 Jul 24)

57

18

25

       

1996

     

Gore (1996 Aug 11)

60

34

6

Kemp (1996 Aug 11)

61

16

23

       

1992

     

Gore (1992 Jul 24-26)

64

19

17

Quayle (1992 Jul 24-26)

32

62

6

6. Do you think John Kerry's choice of John Edwards reflects favorably or unfavorably on Kerry's ability to make important presidential decisions?

 

 

Favorably

Unfavorably

No opinion

       

2004 Jul 6

64%

24

12

Trends for Comparison:

 

 

Favorably

Unfavorably

No opinion

2000

%

%

%

Gore-Lieberman (2000 Aug 7)

57

19

24

Bush-Cheney (2000 Jul 24)

64

15

21

       

1992

     

Clinton-Gore (1992 Jul 8-9) ^

70

11

19

       

1988

     

Bush-Quayle (1988 Aug 29-30) †‡

38

46

16

       

^

Source: Time/CNN/Yankelovich Clancy Schulman poll.

Source: Time/Yankelovich Clancy Schulman poll.

Based on likely voters.

7. When deciding how to vote this year, would you say you will -- or will not -- pay more attention to the vice presidential candidates than you did in previous elections?

 

 

Yes, will

No, will not

No opinion

       

2004 Jul 6

45%

53

2

8. As you may know, John Edwards is finishing his first six-year term in the U.S. Senate. Prior to that, Edwards had not served in any elected office. If he were elected vice president, do you think his limited political experience would be -- [ROTATED: a major strength, a minor strength, a minor weakness, (or) a major weakness]?

 

 

Major strength

Minor strength

Minor weakness

Major weakness

No
opinion

           

2004 Jul 6

17%

23

35

20

5

9. As you may know, before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, John Edwards was a successful trial lawyer who filed lawsuits against hospitals and companies in personal injury cases. If he were elected vice president, do you think his experience as a trial lawyer would be -- [ROTATED: a major strength, a minor strength, a minor weakness, (or) a major weakness]?

 

 

Major strength

Minor strength

Minor weakness

Major weakness

No
opinion

           

2004 Jul 6

26%

41

15

12

6

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