A new poll shows most Republicans want to President Donald Trump to keep Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket come 2020.
A Hill-HarrisX survey released last week shows solid support for Pence with 69 percent of Republicans wanting to keep him on the ticket while 9 percent prefer U.S. Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, 9 percent want former UN Amb. Nikki Haley, 9 percent back U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, for the post and 4 percent prefer someone else.
Pence does well across the board with both men and women wanting to keep him on the ticket though he does better with older Republicans than younger ones. Even with younger Republicans, Pence has the support of a majority of those surveyed.
The poll of 404 Republican voters Aug. 23 and 24 with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
Pence has been active on the campaign trail for Trump in recent weeks and has often turned his attention to the Sunshine State with numerous appearances in Florida in recent months. For example, Pence was in Miami at the end of June to launch Latinos for Trump.
While there have been reports about Trump being unhappy with Pence, for the moment, it doesn’t make much sense to dump the vice president. There’s a reason that Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama kept their understudies on the ticket: dumping the vice president is almost always bad politics.
President Gerald Ford was the last president who threw his vice president overboard and it turned out to be a major mistake. After rising to the presidency after President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned, Ford picked longtime Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, R-NY, as his vice president. Facing a bruising primary challenge from Reagan, Ford tossed Rockefeller aside and added U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., to the ticket. Despite Ford’s actions, Rockefeller delivered the Empire State behind the president at the 1976 GOP convention. Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter in the general election and Rockefeller could have made a difference, especially with his home turf. Carter carried New York by only 4 percent. Having won four gubernatorial elections, Rockefeller could have kept the Empire State in Ford’s column.
Outside of Ford, the only president in the last century who threw his vice president off the ticket was FDR who did it twice, jettisoning conservative Texan John Nance Garner in 1940 and leftist Henry Wallace four years later. There is some evidence that Warren G. Harding was planning to replace Calvin Coolidge with Charles Dawes had he survived his first term. Fitting, after Harding died in 1923, Coolidge tapped Dawes to serve as his understudy which turned out to be a mistake. Dawes flopped badly in the role and never quite recovered his luster despite wining the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925.
While history shows no real reward for tossing a vice president overboard, Trump has no real strategic reason to replace Pence. The vice president’s home state of Indiana should be secure for the GOP in 2020 but Pence can help in neighboring states like Ohio and Michigan. He can also help keep fiscal and social conservatives behind Trump, no small consideration as the nation gears up for what appears to be a close election.
Kevin Derby wrote this analysis. He can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.