fdu_public_mind_pollMADISON, NJ - While some Republicans and independents aren’t thinking about Republican vice-presidential nominees (36%), many others have suggestions at the ready. According to a new national poll of registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™, Senator Marco Rubio, Rep. Michele Bachman, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich top the list, each getting 60 mentions or more out of 740 voters asked, or about 8 percent.

“The surprise is that Rubio has so many mentions without any prompt,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “The question we asked was open ended. He was not mentioned in any previous question.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets half that number of mentions for Vice President, or about 4 percent, to come in fifth, just behind former Gov. Mitt Romney.

In generic terms, however, women top the list. In addition to 60 mentions for Michele Bachman, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets 16, former Gov. Sarah Palin gets 13, former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice gets 5, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine gets 1, and “a woman” gets 14, to comprise 15% of all responses

“The Republican Party is trending older and whiter and more male,” said Woolley “Clearly some voters are looking for a little more contrast. Some know they will have to appeal to a broader group of people to win the White House.”

Marco Rubio, who gets the most mentions, is a child of Cuban immigrants, but precious few Republicans or independents make mention of selecting a “Latino” (2), or “a minority” (2) or an African American (1) as the Republicans’ presidential running mate.

“The reason we include independents in this study is because they make the difference between winning and losing,” said Woolley. “Choosing a running mate is either about shoring up the base or appealing to important blocks of voters outside the base.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 740 registered Republican and independent voters nationwide was conducted by both landlines and cell phones from Nov. 29 through Dec. 5, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.