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CBS News Poll: Veep Picks May Matter More This Year

A new CBS News poll on the presidential election will be released this evening but we have a few nuggets to share this morning. While most voters (67 percent) say their vote will be based mostly on the candidate at the top of the ticket, 30 percent said that the choices of their vice presidential running mates will have a great deal of influence on their decision. That's twice the number who said the VP picks would matter in 2000, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were preparing their campaigns.

According to the poll, voters who are still undecided are more apt than those currently favoring Barack Obama or John McCain to say the candidates' choices for vice president will be important to their vote. Forty-eight percent of those voters say the choices will influence their vote while 47 percent say they won't. And Independents are more likely than Democrats or Republicans to say the choice of vice presidential nominee will matter.

Historically, more voters are likely to say the vice presidential selections are important after the choices are announced. In 2000, the number doubled from 15 percent before the announcements to 30 percent afterwards.

But in the last two presidential elections, the VP announcements have had little immediate impact on the horse race results. In a CBS News poll conducted after John Kerry selected John Edwards as his running mate, the Democrat led by 5 points. He led by one point before the announcement.

On the issues front, the poll shows that few voters are very confident that either candidate will make the right decisions on the economy. Just 12 percent said they were very confident that Obama would and 9 percent said the same about McCain. Forty percent said they were somewhat confident that Obama would make the right decisions and 41 percent said that about McCain. Forty-five percent said they were not confident about Obama and the economy compared to 47 percent who said that about McCain. Forty-three percent describe the state of the economy as very bad, up from 35 percent a month ago.

Americans' assessments of the economy remain grim. Now 83% of Americans think the condition of the economy is at least somewhat bad. And the number who describes the economy as very bad has increased to 43% from 35% last month.

And more voters are very confident about McCain's ability to make the right decisions when it comes to Iraq. Twenty-five percent said so about McCain, compared to 14 percent for Obama. Thirty-eight percent said they were somewhat confident in Obama's ability to make the right decisions about Iraq, 29 percent said the same about McCain. And 46 percent said they were not confident about Obama on the issue, compared to 43 percent for McCain. There has been no improvement in perceptions of Obama on this measure, despite his recent trip to Iraq. Tune into the CBS Evening News tonight for more on the poll and check back at for the full results at 6:30pm EST.