The fact that 40% of poll respondents tell CNN pollsters that they’ve either never heard of Elizabeth Warren or have no opinion of her is pretty sobering to this political animal. Maybe that’s why Donald Trump is calling her “Pocahontas” every two seconds. He wants to shape a negative image of the Massachusetts senator in case Clinton taps Warren as her running mate.
If it’s true that four of out ten voters don’t know anything about Elizabeth Warren, it makes me wonder what they do know about and whether their opinion is worth anything this far out from the election. I assume they’re clearer on some other questions, like whether they’d be comfortable with a ticket featuring two women. Roughly 90% of voters says that either candidate choosing a female running mate would not influence their choice, but 10% of Clinton supporters say it would make them less inclined to vote for her compared to just 4% who say it would make them more likely to vote for her. With undecided voters, the results are similar (9% less likely, 3% more likely).
So, it seems that with the voters who matter to Clinton, at least, people are very modestly of the opinion that a male running mate would be preferable.
These numbers seem insignificant to me, which may be the most meaningful thing you can take away from them. It’s vastly more important that 40% of the people have yet to form a strong opinion of Warren than it is that there is some minuscule generic preference for a gender-balanced ticket. If people wind up liking Warren, she’ll be an asset on the ticket, and if they don’t like her, then she’ll be a drag.
The results don’t tell Clinton what to do in terms of choosing a running mate, but they do warn her that Warren still needs to be introduced to a lot of people, and that how successfully that is done is going to matter a lot if she’s going to run with Hillary.