Poll: Biden well-liked, but unknown to many

ByABC News
August 24, 2008, 5:54 AM

DENVER -- Barack Obama's choice of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate gets generally positive reviews by voters nationwide, especially among Democrats, an instant USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

For many Americans, though, the question is "Joe who?" Among those surveyed, 23% say they've never heard of the Delaware senator and another 28% say they don't have an opinion of him.

Among those tapped as running mates since 1992, only Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman started out the contest less well known when Al Gore chose him in 2000.

The poll of 876 registered voters was taken on Saturday, the day Obama's campaign sent text messages to millions of supporters before dawn to announce that Obama had settled on Biden. At midday, the two men campaigned side-by-side for the first time at a rally on the steps of the Old State House in Springfield, Ill.

The choice of Biden, the 65-year-old chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, brought praise from many of the Democratic regulars gathering in Denver for the opening of the Democratic National Convention Monday.

Among Democratic voters nationwide, 29% call the choice of Biden excellent and another 36% say it is "pretty good." Just 16% say it is "only fair" and 6% call it poor.

Republicans were less impressed. Only one in four, 25%, call Obama's pick of Biden excellent or good. Nearly twice as many, 47%, say it is only fair or poor.

And 45% of independents call the pick excellent or good, 35% fair or poor.

Overall, Biden got lower ratings than then-North Carolina Sen. John Edwards received when John Kerry tapped him for the same job four years ago. Biden got higher ratings than then-Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle did when George H.W. Bush chose him in 1988.

Among other findings:

By a wide margin, 57%-18%, voters say Biden is qualified to serve as president, should that become necessary.

More than seven in 10 Americans say the choice of Biden won't affect their vote for president. Those who say it will affect their vote by 2-1 say it makes them more likely rather than less likely to vote for Obama.