Voters Know What They Want in VPs, Poll Says

Randy Hall | July 10, 2008 | 5:10pm EDT
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A new poll says Republicans want John McCain to pick a strong conservative as his running mate, and Democrats want Barack Obama to pick a vice president with economic or military and foreign policy experience.

( - Republicans want John McCain to pick a strong conservative as his running mate, and Democrats want Barack Obama to pick a vice president with economic or military and foreign policy experience, according to a poll released Thursday.
"Running mate selection this year will be more important than usual," said Ron Faucheux, president of the non-partisan Clarus Research Group in Washington, D.C., in a news release based on a telephone survey of a national sample of 912 registered voters conducted June 18-23.
"Because of Obama's newness on the national scene, his pick will help define his own candidacy,” Faucheux continued. “Because of McCain's need to both energize his party's base and distance himself from President Bush, his pick will help define his vision for America, as well as his vision for the Republican Party's future.”
"Most rank-and-file Republicans want McCain to pick a running mate based on a commitment to conservative ideology," he said. GOP voters “want to balance what they see as McCain's own weaknesses with a running mate who supplies compensating strengths."
Republican voters also ranked experience dealing with the economy, administrative experience as a governor or presidential cabinet member, and experience running a business high on their list of qualities for the party’s vice presidential nominee.
"Mitt Romney would likely be a popular VP choice among many Republicans, based on these findings," Faucheux said. "The former Massachusetts governor offers qualifications that most rank-and-file GOP voters want: a conservative with executive, economic and business experience."
On the Democratic side, the top qualification was experience dealing with the economy, which was closely followed by military and foreign policy experience. Next for Democrats was appeal to supporters of former presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton and administrative experience as a governor or big city mayor.
"Among contenders for Obama’s running mate, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh offers a combination that would be attractive to many Democratic voters: a former governor and Clinton supporter with appeal to moderate Independents as well as some foreign policy and economic experience," said Faucheux.
Also meeting many of the “favored criteria” is Sen. Hillary Clinton, Faucheux said.
"Interestingly, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – a dark horse possibility who isn't even a Democrat – meets four criteria: economic, executive, and business experience who would appeal to moderate Independents,” the pollster noted.
Also, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has a range of strengths that include foreign policy, economic and executive experience, Faucheux said, and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius, a woman with executive and economic experience and appeal to moderate Independents, provides a strong combination except for a lack of foreign policy expertise.
"Democrats place experience dealing with the economy above Republicans (22 percent to 16 percent), while Republicans place executive experience in government above Democrats (16 percent to 10 percent)," he stated.
The Clarus survey was released one day after columnists Robert D. Novak and Timothy P. Carney did their own handicapping of this year’s “veepstakes.”
While Novak and Carney agreed that Romney would be McCain’s best choice for a running mate, the writers also listed Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as potential vice presidential candidates.
However, the columnists listed Bayh as only their third choice for Obama’s running mate, behind Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine – a “logical choice” because he is a “moderate Southern governor” – and Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.), who would add age and experience to the ticket.
Other vice presidential selections included Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a “very able and very experienced” Clinton supporter, and even former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore.
“We don’t think he would do it,” Novak and Carney added regarding the former vice president, “but it’s possible.”
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