How important have vice-presidential picks been in past elections?
Fairly important, but not as crucial as the presidential debates, according to a new national poll released as the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the moderators of this autumn's four general election debates.
A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that 57 percent of Americans say that in past elections, presidential debates were very important to their vote for president, with 46 percent saying that the choice of a running a running mate was very important.
The poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, before Saturday's announcement by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was his running mate. This poll can not be seen as a reaction to the Ryan pick.
Forty-one percent said positive television commercials were very important to their vote, 31 percent saying that convention speeches were very important, one in four said the vice presidential debates were very important and 13 percent said that negative TV ads were very important to their vote for president.
"Independents tended to ranked most of those items as less important to them than Democrats and Republicans did," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's probably because independents are not partisans and tend to tune out overtly political messages. That, in turn, may make it difficult for either candidate to reach this critical bloc of voters, even on debate nights."
The debate commission announced Monday that Candy Crowley, CNN's chief political correspondent and host of "State of the Union," will be the first woman in 20 years to moderate a presidential debate. She'll host the second showdown between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Oct. 16 in Hempsted, N.Y., at Hoftsra University.
Other debate moderators announced Monday included PBS' Jim Lehrer, who will host the Oct. 3 debate in Denver, and CBS' Bob Schieffer, who will host an Oct. 22 debate in Boca Raton, Fla. Martha Raddatz of ABC News will moderate the vice presidential debate, which will be held Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on Aug. 7-8, with,1,010 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story