For most Americans, a Republican "dream ticket" of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford would have made little difference in support for a Reagan presidency, a new Associated Press NBC News poll says.
Reagan's decision to pick George Bush as his running mate instead of Ford has a slightly positive effect on the GOP ticket, particularly among moderates and independents, but the margins are small.
Most of those surveyed -- 54 percent -- said the selection of Ford as Reagan's running mate would not have changed their vote in November.
The remainder were split on Ford's impact: 23 percent said they would have been more likely to vote for the GOP ticket if Ford had been on it, but 19 percent said they would have been less likely to do so. Given the three-percentage point margin of error for a poll such as this, that can only be called a roughly even split. The remaining 4 percent were not sure.
Bush actually had a slightly more positive impact on the GOP ticket than Ford, but the margin was small.
The suspense and confusion at the Republican National Convention last Wednesday, as Reagan and Ford discussed the makeup of the GOP ticket, does not seem to have had a negative impact on public perceptions of Reagan.
Although some critics, particularly Democrats, have said Reagan's handling of the selection of a running mate was sloppy and indicated a lack of judgment, about half of the public said the incident did not change their opinion of Reagan's ability to handle the presidency. The rest split on whether their opinion of Reagan was raised or lowered by the incident.
The AP-NBC News poll is based on interviews with 2,013 adults nationwide interviewed by telephone Friday and Saturday, just after the close of the GOP convention.
Despite reports of extensive negotiations involving the two, Ford says he didn't make any demands upon Ronald Reagan to be his running mate, never said he'd accept the vice presidential spot and in fact pushed discreetly for George Bush.
"When I went to Detroit I wasn't looking for anything and I'm happy it ended up without any post," Ford said Sunday in a speech to the National Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association convention in Las Vegas.
"I worked in a discreet way for George Bush. It worked out very well. I never told anybody I would accept the vice presidency."
He also denied reports he imposed conditions that included several recommendations for Cabinet appointments.
Meanwhile, the Gallup Polls find the Reagan-Bush ticket holding a substantial lead over the Carter-Mondale slate and that of independent John B. Anderson, who has not named his running mate.
The GOP ticket received the vote of 43 percent of the registered voters polled, to 34 percent for the Democratic ticket and 16 percent for Anderson. Seven percent of the 908 registered voters polled were undecided or selected other candidates.