Kamala Harris was a good choice for Joe Biden’s running mate, voters say by a 14-point margin in a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters are largely content with the addition of Harris to the ticket, with roughly three-quarters saying Biden made a good decision in adding her.
The selection of a running mate, research suggests, rarely has a direct, game-changing impact on voters’ preferences ― something that’s especially likely to be the case in 2020, which much of the electorate sees mainly as a referendum on President Trump. But the decision can help to shape voters’ views about the presidential candidate’s judgment and ideological leanings.
By those metrics, this survey suggests, Harris initially makes a neutral or mildly positive addition to the ticket, with voters more likely than not to see her selection as a sound decision on Biden’s part, and perceiving little ideological distance between the two candidates.
Harris’ favorability rating among all registered voters stands slightly above water at 46%, with 41% viewing her unfavorably and 13% unsure. Voters say, 49% to 35%, that Biden made a good choice in selecting Harris. They say, 44% to 36%, that she has the qualifications to serve as president.
Harris, those results suggest, is both modestly better-liked and far more of a known quantity to the public than Mike Pence was when Trump selected him as his running mate four years ago. In July 2016, an Economist YouGov poll found that Pence had just a 29% favorability rating among voters, with 34% rating him unfavorably, and a significant 37% unsure. In that poll, 38% of voters called Pence a good choice, with 22% saying he was a bad choice and 39% unsure.
About half of voters, 52%, currently say they’re satisfied with or enthusiastic about the selection of Harris, with 36% calling themselves dissatisfied or upset. Just 35% of all voters say Harris was Democrats’ best option for a vice presidential nominee, with 42% saying she was not. (Metrics for making this judgment, of course, vary ― a few Trump supporters pronounced themselves enthusiastic about a choice they thought was likely to harm the Biden campaign’s chances.)
Biden and Harris are viewed as ideologically similar by many voters. A 48% plurality say Harris is at least a little more liberal than they are, with 20% saying she is similar, and 13% that she is more conservative. Forty-six percent say Biden is more liberal than they are, 23% that he is similar to them, and 19% that he’s more conservative.
About half of voters, 48%, say Trump is more conservative than they are, with 11% saying he is more liberal, and 24% that his views are similar to theirs. A 55% majority say Vice President Pence is more conservative than them, 9% that he’s more liberal, and 23% that he broadly shares their views.
Most Democratic Voters Are Satisfied With Biden’s Decision
Nearly three-quarters of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 73%, have a favorable opinion of Harris, with just 13% rating her unfavorably.
A 77% majority say they’re either enthusiastic about (45%) or satisfied with (32%) Harris as Biden’s running mate, with 16% describing themselves as dissatisfied or upset. For comparison, a similar 78% are at least satisfied with Biden as the party’s likely presidential nominee, with 36% enthusiastic about having him at the top of the ticket.
A slim 54% majority of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say Harris was the party’s best option for a vice presidential nominee, with 24% saying she was not and the rest unsure. Most, 64%, say they believe Harris will help his chances of winning, with just 9% expecting her to hurt the ticket. Roughly seven in 10 believe she is qualified to be president herself. Just shy of three-quarters say Biden made a good choice in selecting her.
A 37% plurality of Democratic and Democratic leaning-voters say Harris’ political viewpoints are similar to their own, with 21% saying she is more liberal than they are, 21% that she is more conservative than they are, and another 21% that they’re not sure. (By contrast, these voters are twice as likely to say Biden is more conservative than they are than that he’s more liberal than they are.)
Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters who describe themselves as liberal are about equally as likely to be enthusiastic for Harris as those who describe themselves as moderates. But there’s a generational divide: those over age 45 are 24 percentage points likelier to be enthusiastic than those age 44 or younger.
After asking voters to rate their feelings about Harris’ selection, the poll also asked them to explain why they felt that way. Here are a few of the responses from Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, in some cases lightly edited for clarity or length.
Why some say they’re enthusiastic:
“Kamala isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She is eloquent and sensible. Her background is perfect for the VP or even the presidential role. She is the best for the job.” ― 67-year-old Georgia woman
“She’s a powerhouse, great decision maker, great debater and an overall great team player for Joe.” ― 78-year-old California man
“She’s making history.” ― 19-year-old Minnesota man
Why some say they’re satisfied, but not enthusiastic:
“It was a good hit, but not a home run.” ― 60-year-old Florida man
“I feel that Senator Harris’s selection by Biden is a concerted choice to keep the Democratic Party towards a centrist position in future presidential elections, which may not be the direction the voters are actually trending.” ― 29-year-old Massachusetts woman
“I like her, but I fear political spin from the right may work.” ― 32-year-old Texas woman
Why some say they’re dissatisfied, but not upset:
“I am not a fan of her decisions as an attorney general, and she’s too moderate for my liking, but I guess it’s cool Biden chose a woman of color” ― 23-year-old Pennsylvania woman
“She’s a chameleon. I don’t know what she stands for.” ― 31-year-old New York man
“I don’t really like her, but it’s a safe bet.” ― 36-year-old Illinois woman
Why some say they’re upset:
“As a liberal member of the party, I was hoping for a VP who was more liberal than Biden, not someone as conservative as he is.” ― 30-year-old Massachusetts woman
“There are many more women of color who are smarter and have more qualifications.” ― 69-year-old California woman
“She is radical left.” ― 61-year-old Georgia woman
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted August 11-13 among U.S. adults, including 748 registered voters, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.