Unlike the last Republican to hold the position, Mike Pence isn’t the most policy-driven vice-president, choosing instead to take care of diplomatic tasks and gleam aspirationally at the president’s broad shoulders. But a new CNN poll that finds that 12 percent of Americans have “never heard” of him still seems a little low for the man who is second in line to become the president. As Newsweek notes, that equates to over 30 million adults who don’t recognize Pence’s name.
The poll seems to affirm just how many Americans have fully opted out of political life, and it’s possible that the number could still fall short of determining just how many Americans don’t know their veep. Twelve percent is the number of people who have “never heard” of him after saying his name — to ask “Who is the vice-president?” or “Who is Mike Pence?” would likely bring in more shrugs. Of those who did recognize Pence’s name, 40 percent said they had an “unfavorable opinion” him and 39 percent claimed a “favorable opinion.”
Pence is not the most publicly present vice-president in modern history. “He likes to be out,” a longtime aide told the Atlantic last August, referring to the vice-president’s habit of avoiding commenting on the never-ending stream of administration scandals. Still, Pence’s level of recognition isn’t a major departure from prior years’ polling: Since taking office, the “never heard” of him mark has held steady around 10 percent. And Pence appears to be doing better than his predecessor. In 2014, when Newsweek polled 1,000 people with questions from the American-citizenship test, less than 29 percent could name Joe Biden as the sitting vice-president.