In a year when three-quarter of voters see the vice presidential candidates as important to the Democratic and Republican tickets this year, Democrat Barack Obama scored good marks for choosing Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, a flash Zogby Interactive poll shows.
Nearly half - 43% said they think it was a good decision by Obama, while 25% said it was a bad one, the Zogby online survey shows. And while 43% said Biden was the best available option for Obama, 41% disagreed. However, 43% said they think Biden will help Obama's chances to get elected, while 22% said he would hurt the ticket's chances in November.
The online interactive survey included 2,248 likely voters nationwide and was conducted on Aug. 23-24, 2008. It carries a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percentage points.
Among all voters - Democrats, Republicans, and independents - 19% said they were more likely to support the Democratic ticket because of the addition of Biden, while 16% said they were less inclined to vote for it. Another 64% said the choice makes no different in their decision for whom to vote in November.
Remarkably, while just 7 percent said that they have ever voted for a presidential ticket specifically because of the vice presidential candidate, 74% said they think the Number Two on the ticket is important this year. Democrat Obama has been hit by opponents as being too inexperienced for the job, while others have charged that Republican John McCain, at age 71 (he turns 72 this week), is too old.
In the poll's horserace question, Obama got a small bump out of the announcement, and now leads McCain, 46% to 44%, in a two-way contest, and leads 45% to 42% in a five-way contest including Libertarian candidate Bob Barr of Georgia, who won 4%, Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney and liberal independent candidate Ralph Nader, both of whom won 1% support.
Obama regained momentum among his core base of supporters - Democratic voters - winning 86% support, and he now leads by a 42% to 33% margin over McCain among independent voters, the Zogby Interactive survey shows.
"The Biden choice seems to have done precisely what Barack Obama needed it to do. It has thrust him back into the lead overall, and has consolidated his support among Democrats and put him back into the lead among independent voters," says pollster John Zogby. "While Hillary Clinton tops the list of preferred choices for vice president, it is all to clear from this latest polling that her negatives far outweigh her positives. Her presence on the ticket would have dominated the fall campaign and distracted from Obama's issues agenda."
"Interestingly, besides the obvious support for Mitt Romney as McCain's vice presidential partner, which keeps the race competitive, voters seem to be otherwise in favor of Condoleezza Rice to the number two slot on the GOP ticket."
Republican Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who was an also-ran in the GOP presidential primary this spring, is far and away the favorite to be picked as the veep candidate on the Republican side. Almost half - 47% - said they would prefer him as McCain's running mate, including 49% of Republicans. No other candidate even reached double digits - Sen. Joe Lieberman was second at 7%, while Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was third with 5%.
Both Obama and McCain have overall favorability ratings of 50%. However, the Zogby polling shows that Obama has more who both intensely like him and dislike him than does McCain. Biden's favorability rating is also 50% positive. He has a 41% negative rating and 9% saying they were either not familiar with him or unsure about how they felt about him.
Given Biden's reputation as a political fighter, it remains unclear whether voters will warm up to that role, which is traditional for the second on the ticket. Just 5% said they think the role of a vice president ought to be as a fighter who goes on the offensive against the other candidate, while 42% said he instead should be a policy expert who can help his own ticket by adding experience. Forty-four percent preferred something of a hybrid between the two.