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About that running mate: 72% of Democrats in USA TODAY poll say it’s ‘important’ Biden pick woman of color

  • July 01, 2020

Seven of 10 Democrats in the new USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll say it is important to them that presumptive nominee Joe Biden picks a woman of color as his running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket this fall.

A third of Democrats, among both Black and white Americans, call it “very important.”

The potential contender who generates the most enthusiasm as a vice presidential nominee among those surveyed is California Sen. Kamala Harris, followed by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Many of the other possibilities reportedly being vetted by the Biden campaign aren’t familiar enough to be rated by most of those surveyed.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden campaigns in Columbia, South Carolina, on Feb. 29, 2020.

The poll had some disheartening news for the current vice president, Mike Pence. Republicans by close to 2-1 wouldn’t be concerned if President Donald Trump dumped Pence from the GOP ticket in favor of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley: 11% would be “excited” and 35% would find that move “acceptable.” 

Just 21% said it would be “not acceptable,” and 6% said they would be “angry.” Another 1 in 4 are undecided.

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Whether Trump is considering taking that step isn’t clear, although former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, in his new bestseller, “The Room Where It Happened,” says that was an idea he believed was being promoted behind the scenes by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. 

In any case, Biden is in the market for a vice presidential nominee, which he has promised will be a woman. He has said he’ll announce his choice around Aug. 1. 

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Among Democrats, 35% said it was “very important” to them that his running mate be a woman of color; another 37% said it was “somewhat important.” Only 26% said it was “not very” or “not at all” important.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are among those being considered for Joe Biden's running mate.

“It definitely needs to be a woman of color to be representative of what’s happening right now,” said Dawn Newman, 56, a Democrat from Barnum, Minnesota, who was called in the poll. She said either Harris or Abrams would be a “strong, effective” choice.

In the poll, nominating a woman of color was more important to white Americans than Black Americans. Seventy-five percent of white Americans said it was very or somewhat important to them; 60% of Black Americans took that view. So did 81% of Hispanics.

Among Democrats under 25, 85% called it very or somewhat important, a higher proportion than among older voters.

The poll of 345 Democrats and 287 Republicans was taken by landline and cellphone Thursday through Monday. The margin of error for the Democratic sample is plus or minus 5.3 percentage points; for the Republican sample it is 5.8 points.

USA TODAY poll:Biden widens his lead, but Trump keeps the edge on enthusiasm

Democrat Stacey Abrams deliver her party’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union by arguing for a more unified society that gives every American a chance at prosperity

Among the possibilities:

  • Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, generated the most excitement, and across racial lines: 41% of whites and 32% of African Americans said they would be “excited” by her choice. Overall, another 33% called her “acceptable;” 12% said she would be “not acceptable.”
  • Abrams, who is African American, was rated as an “exciting” choice by 20% of white and 27% of Black respondents. Among all Democrats, 29% said she was “acceptable” and 10% “not acceptable.”
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is white, was seen as “exciting” by 33% of white and 15% of Black respondents. Overall, 38% said she was “acceptable.” But 19% called her “not acceptable,” the highest negative rating of any of the 11 names on the poll’s rundown.
  • Former Obama U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, who is Black, was seen as “exciting” by 20% of white and 24% of Black Americans. Among all Democrats, 35% said she would be “acceptable” and 10% said she would be “not acceptable.”
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is African American, was seen as an “exciting” choice by 16% of white and 25% of Black respondents. Overall, 28% called her “acceptable” and 7% “not acceptable.”
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is white, was seen as “exciting” by 16% of Black and white Americans alike. She was seen as “acceptable” by 38% overall and “not acceptable” by 14%.

Five other names were included in the survey, but a majority of respondents said they didn’t know enough about them to have an opinion. They were Florida Rep. Val Demings, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and California Rep. Karen Bass. 

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Of course, being chosen for the ticket would presumably make any pick much better known, and fast.

Jacob Walker, 44, a school administrator and an independent voter from Auburn, California, who was polled, cautioned against choosing someone “too radical.” An independent, he plans to vote for Biden.

“If you had somebody on the ticket who was just a firebrand – you know, get rid of the police or things like that – that would make it very hard,” he said, recalling the Republican ticket in 2008. “I saw Sarah Palin on McCain’s ticket. Great, she’s a woman, but she just was not a person I would want to become president.”

He urged Biden to choose someone who “if they became president, could be a uniter also of our nation.”

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