36

Is Kamala Harris' approval rating "the lowest of any vice president"? I was watching this Fox News video and I am not sure if it's accurate or not.

Sources:

28% approval rating as of Nov 8, 2021

Harris hit an historic low approval rating of 28%, even lower than Dick Cheney's all-time worst.

Article cited in Fox News video

11
  • 13
    Even if assuming this claim is limited to Vice Presidents in the United States, it's unanswerable, because not all historical Vice Presidents of the United States have had their approval ratings measured.
    – gerrit
    Nov 9 at 8:47
  • 13
    The 28% one seems to be an outlier relative to her recent polling latimes.com/projects/… So unless she recently did something terrible I haven't heard of, the question is premised on somewhat dubious data to begin with.
    – Fizz
    Nov 9 at 10:03
  • 3
    @Fizz The group that conducted the poll, Suffolk University, ranks as a B+ per FiveThirtyEight.com with regard to predictability. That's a fairly good (but not great) rating. What might make this a bit of an outlier is when the poll was conducted, which was the Wednesday to Friday immediately following the 2021 off-year election. That was an election in which Democrats underperformed (and that's putting it nicely). Nov 9 at 12:24
  • 6
    @gerrit: If their approval rating wasn't measured (as would have been the case before modern polling), then obviously they're ignored, since approval ratings can only be compared if they exist.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 9 at 16:38
  • 6
    @gerrit You don't need the ratings of all VPs to definitively answer the question - a single instance of a VP with a lower rating means the answer is "no", regardless of how many VPs there are with unknown approval ratings. Only in the case where Harris' rating was actually the lowest among all measured VPs would the answer be unknown, but it seems that's not the case - there are VPs who had lower approval, so Harris' is not the lowest. Unknown approval ratings for early VPs make no difference. Nov 9 at 18:07
87

As has been pointed out, the 28% is an outlier. The average poll still has her at around 41%.

If we look at that 41% value, she is still above past vice presidents. Mike Pence eg polled at times around 38% (the list also contains polls from before and after he was VP, so the <30% values are not relevant for this question).

But even if we take the outlier 28%, we can find other outliers that go below that. Dick Cheney regularly polled around 30% (see eg these 29% and 30% polls), and a CBS-New York Times poll found a "favorable" rating of Cheney of just 23% (which at one time even went as low as 13%).

7
  • 24
    Might be an over-statement to call it an "extreme" outlier; it's more of a normal outlier. In-context, also worth noting that the poll was conducted from 2021-11-03 through 2021-11-05, in the wake of the elections on 2021-11-02, which may've affected sentiment, rather than the deviation merely being a statistical fluke.
    – Nat
    Nov 9 at 17:56
  • 4
    Good answer. I'm wondering how accurate these polls are. After all US pollsters were quite inaccurate when it comes to two last presidential election (Then again, I can't really think better sources.)
    – pinegulf
    Nov 10 at 6:29
  • 5
    @pinegulf: My understanding is that when modern opinion polls do a poor job of predicting election results, it's not usually so much that they do a poor job of determining how many people prefer each candidate, as that they do a poor job of predicting which people will actually vote. Approval ratings don't have to worry about that, because everyone's opinion is considered equally relevant.
    – ruakh
    Nov 10 at 8:02
  • 2
    @pinegulf honestly, I don't trust any kind of polls by default. There is A LOT of manipulation that can be done from sampling to data analysis and, of course, they never divulge the relevant markers that someone could use to identify it Nov 10 at 8:07
  • 1
    Regarding statistical outliers: xkcd.com/882 which I think applies here.
    – hlovdal
    Nov 12 at 14:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .