It was my theory that the Biden pick was a misstep and was hishandled by the Obama campaign. It’s difficult to test the veracity of such claims, but this poll (via Gary Gross, who really needs to learn how to properly use the phrase “begs the question”) appears to show the electorate was unmoved by the selection of Senator Joe Biden:
This results in Biden potentially having a net positive impact on voter support for the Democratic ticket of +7 percentage points — small by comparison with other recent vice presidential selections.
• A net 17% of nationwide registered voters said they were more likely to vote for John Kerry in 2004 on the basis of his selection of John Edwards as his running mate (24% more likely and 7% less likely).
• A net 12% of voters reported being more likely to vote for Al Gore in 2000 on account of his choosing Joe Lieberman (16% more likely and 4% less likely).
• A net 18% of voters indicated they were more likely to vote for Bob Dole in 1996 on the basis of his choice of Jack Kemp to complete the ticket (26% more likely and 8% less likely).
• A net 25% of voters were more likely to vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 on account of Al Gore (33% more likely and 8% less likely).
The only recent vice presidential choices to spark less voter reaction than Biden were Dick Cheney in 2000 (net 4%, with 14% more likely and 10% less likely) and Dan Quayle in 1988 (net score of 0, with 10% more likely and 10% less likely).
The mechanism of the voter reaction can’t be known. I think the Obama campaign didn’t properly use the potential earned media from their VP pick announcement to maximum effect. It might simply be the fact nobody really knows who Biden is. It might even be demographics, Biden might not be helping Obama where he really needs it (shockingly enough, Obama probably has the east coast elite crowd locked up already).
This isn’t a huge blunder on Obama’s part, the Convention will give him a healthy bounce anyway. However, it might be indicative of the campaign to come.