Joe Biden, good guy or court jester?

September 5, 2012

After a term serving as Vice President of the United States, the public has two very disparate views of Joe Biden.

On the bright side, a new poll from The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center shows words such as "good," "honest," "vice president" and "OK" are among the most common single-word descriptions of Biden.

But wide segments of the public also see him less as a statesman and perhaps more as a court jester. More than 60 out of 1,008 people surveyed describe Biden -- who will accept the Democratic vice presidential nomination for the second time Thursday -- with words such as "clown," "funny," "a joke," "goofy," "buffoon" and "comical."

 

Another wave of words is more biting. More than 70 people call Biden some form of an "idiot," including "stupid," "dumb," or "moron" in the poll, which was conducted Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 on landline and cell phones.

Overall, significantly more Americans offered negative than positive takes on Biden (29 percent pro vs. 18 percent con); another 29 percent gave a word that was neither clearly negative nor positive; and 18 percent offered no word at all.

Americans’ impressions of Biden were decidedly mixed in a Washington Post-ABC News poll last month. Some 43 percent said they have a favorable impression of Obama’s two-time running mate, while 43 percent viewed him unfavorably.

This split decision on the vice president’s popularity came through with the top word mentions in the new poll as well. The top word was a positive one, with 43 people saying “good”. But nearly as many -- 40 people -- say “idiot” is the one word that best describes Biden.

See what people at the Democratic National Convention are saying about the vice president:

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Chris Cillizza · September 5, 2012