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Who Should Trump Pick As His Running Mate? GOP Voters Strongly Back Scott, Rubio And Carson: I&I/TIPP Poll

Democrats' Panic Over Biden Highlights VP Pick Importance.

TIPP Insights

The Democrats' recent panic over President Joe Biden's apparent mental infirmities underscores the importance of a president's vice presidential pick. In the case of former President Donald Trump, who will have only one term if re-elected, the choice is just as important if not more so. A handful of favorites has emerged, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

In the past two months, the I&I/TIPP Poll has queried voters about a long list of 22 possible choices for Trump.

However, in recent days, that list has shrunk markedly. Trump campaign insiders, Republican Party officials and those close to Trump have let it be known that Trump has whittled down his choices to just eight likely names. Trump himself says he's already made his pick for running mate, but is waiting for the right time to reveal it.

The national online I&I/TIPP Poll, which included responses by 522 registered Republican or "lean Republican" voters from June 26-28, asked those Americans to weigh in on Trump's selection by answering two questions.

The first: "Who is your top choice for Trump's Vice President?"

As the chart shows, leading the pack is former Housing Secretary and surgeon Ben Carson, with 15% support, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (14%), South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (13%), Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (both at 7%), Florida Rep. Byron Donalds (4%), and finally Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik (both at 3%).

Uncertainty was high: 35% responded they were "not sure."

The second question: "Who is your second choice for Trump's Vice President?"

There, things changed a bit, with Scott leading at 12%, Rubio 10%, Carson 9%, Vance 7%, Burgum 6%, Donalds and Cotton 5%, and Stefanik 4%. "Not sure" responses shrank markedly, from 35% to just 7%.

To gauge not just the breadth of support for individual candidates, but the depth of their support as well, I&I/TIPP simply added the responses to the two questions to get a list of those vice presidential possibilities that voters found most favorable.

Here, Scott and Rubio emerge tied for first, with 25% support each. They were closely followed by Carson (24%), Vance (15%), Burgum (13%), Donalds (9%), and Cotton and Stefanik (7%). All told, Scott, Rubio and Carson get nearly three-quarters of the total vote.

But that's not the end of it. There are some differences between how Republicans and independents who lean Republican in their voting respond.

For Scott, 27% of GOP voters gave him the nod, while 19% of independents did. Differences existed for others. Rubio (24% Republican support) got even more love from independents (28%). In fact, he was the No. 1 pick for indie voters.

Carson (26% GOP, 15% independent), Vance (15% GOP, 14% independent), Burgum (13% GOP, 13% independent), Donalds (10% GOP, 5% independent), Cotton (8% GOP, 4% independent), and Stefanik (8% GOP, 3% independent).

Clearly, Republicans and their independent allies have some differences. Is this important? It certainly is. A Gallup Poll taken earlier this year found that Democrats and Republicans each claimed roughly 27% of registered voters. Independents? They are a looming presence in any election, now at 40% of the electorate.

They are the swing voters, not beholden to party identity. Please indie voters, and you increase enormously your chances of winning. Displease them, you go home a loser.

This year, unlike past years, the debate over possible vice presidents has taken on great importance. Biden's performance during the June 27 debate was widely panned.

In one of the milder accounts of Biden's performance, Newsweek wrote: "Biden, 81, mumbled through his administration's accomplishments and goals in a hoarse voice on the CNN debate stage on June 27. Often times he struggled to give a coherent answer. Biden's team later said he had a cold and was suffering from jet lag."

Biden's troubles show just how vital the selection of a running mate is, not just for the candidate but for the entire nation. Americans, who showed Kamala Harris little love during her quixotic presidential run in the Democratic primaries, may now end up with her as president, should Biden's cabinet decide to deploy the Constitution's 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

If the 81-year-old Biden drops out, Harris vaults to the front of the ranks of Democrats possibly seeking to replace him..

Right now, Democrats are struggling with this. So is the rest of America.

In a Rasmussen Reports survey released late last week, 55% of voters said Biden should end his quest for a second term and 50% said the Democrats should seek someone other than Harris as his replacement.

“Importantly, nearly half (48%) of Democratic voters at least somewhat agree that Biden should step aside and let the Democratic Party choose another candidate,” the report said. Meanwhile in a CBS News Poll, 54% of registered Democrats said Biden should be replaced.

Worse still, both Harris and California Gov. Gavin Newsom "poll worse against Trump" than Biden does, according to Rasmussen. Harris has especially bad issues with voters, according to a Rasmussen on X (Twitter).

As noted, even if he wins, Trump can only serve four years. As such, Republicans would certainly look favorably on a vice president who could reasonably be seen as a presidential candidate in 2028.

In late June, sources told NBC News that Trump was weighing announcing his vice presidential pick during the debate week. That was put on hold following Biden's calamitous debate performance and Democrats' subsequent panic over the party's 2024 presidential prospects.

Insiders say Trump has favored Vance, Rubio and Burgum, according to CNN's reporting.

So who should he pick?

"Voters reward presidential candidates for choosing a credible running mate and punish them for not doing so," wrote University of Dayton associate Professor Christopher J. Devine, co-author of "Do Running Mates Matter? The Influence of Vice Presidential Candidates in Presidential Elections”.

By "credible" Devine means "a well-qualified running mate, who is ready to serve as vice president — or president, if necessary." His call? Rubio, with a wealth of government experience at the local and federal level, would be best.

He also says Trump should focus on other experienced candidates such as Stefanik ("five-term congresswoman and chair of the House Republican conference"), Scott ("serving his third term in the Senate"), Cotton ("served in the House and Senate for more than a decade"), and Burgum ("North Dakota's governor for eight years following a successful career in business") as other potentially success selections.

Right now, however, Republicans and Republican-leaning voters favor Scott, Rubio, Carson, Vance and Burgum, in that order. No other possible candidate has double-digit support. This year, much more than most, voters will be asking themselves: "Who would I prefer as Trump's running mate?"

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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