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Who Cares About VP Choice?

Despite all the attention being given to the vice presidential sweepstakes, most voters say Al Gore and George W. Bush's choices of running mates won't have much influence on how they vote, according to the latest CBS News poll.

Running Mates' Influence On The Vote

Matters A Great Deal 15%

Doesn't Matter 81%

Among all voters, just 15 percent say the vice presidential choices will have a great deal of influence on their vote, while 81 percent say they make up their minds mainly on the presidential candidates, not the vice presidents. Even most voters who are now undecided about the presidential contest claim the choice of running mates won't wind up making that much of a difference. Just 20 percent of undecided voters say the running mates will matter a great deal in their vote.

But there are some specifics that some voters do care about. Relatively few voters say vice presidential geography matters, but many more say a running mate’s stand on abortion could change their vote.

If Bush were to choose a VP who supported legalized abortion, 25 percent of voters say that would make them less likely to vote for Bush (just 13 percent say that would make them more likely to vote for him). And among Bush's current spporters the potential loss is large: 35 percent say choosing a VP who supported legal abortion would make them less likely to vote for Bush.

What If Bush Chooses A Pro-Choice Running Mate?

  Total Bush Supporters
More Likely To Support 13% 13%

Less Likely To Support 25% 35%

No Difference 59% 50%

Given a hoice, Bush's current supporters would prefer a vice presidential candidate who opposes legal abortion over one who supports it. Thirty-eight percent of Bush's voters say he should choose a vice president who opposes legal abortion, 23 percent say his choice should support legal abortion and 34 percent say it shouldn't matter.

However, Bush voters’ advice on what kind of experience his vice president should have is muddled. Thirty percent of Bush supporters say his vice presidential choice should have a lot of experience in Washington, 31 percent favor someone with experience outside of D.C., and the rest say the type of experience shouldn't matter.

This poll was conducted July 13-16, 2000, among a nationwide random sample of 776 adults interviewed by telephone. The sample includes 596 registered voters. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the sample of registered voters. The error for subgroups is larger.
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