Who Is Mike Pence? 12 Percent of Americans Say They Have Never Heard of the Vice President: Poll

Tens of millions of Americans may have no idea who their country's vice president is, a CNN poll suggested.

The poll, which surveyed 1,011 people from January 30 to February 2, found that 12 percent of Americans had never even "heard of" Vice President Mike Pence.

According to the recent census estimates, that 12 percent means that more than 30,387,000 American adults may not recognize the name of President Donald Trump's second-in-command.

While the number may come as some surprise, the portion of CNN poll respondents who said they had not heard of Pence has generally remained around the 10 percent mark since the vice president first took office.

Of those who did know who Pence was, 40 percent said they had an "unfavorable opinion" of the vice president, while 39 percent said they had a "favorable opinion." Eight percent said they had "no opinion" about him.

While Trump occupies the front page of daily newspapers around the world, Pence has been noticeably absent from center stage since the duo took office.

In an August column for The Atlantic, national political columnist Dick Polman noted that Pence had a "talent for being absent."

"If the children's book Where's Waldo? were to be retooled as an adult tome about contemporary Washington, Mike Pence could play the starring role. Nobody else in town can match his talent for conspicuous absence," Polman wrote at the time.

Speculating on whether Pence's absence was by design, Poman wrote: "The official word—from Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah, informing CNN—is that 'Vice President Pence is focused on advancing the president's agenda for a growing economy, a safer America and re-electing Republican majorities in the House and Senate.'

"The unofficial word, from a longtime Pence aide is that 'he likes to be out.' In translation, he likes to be as far away from the White House chaos as he can physically manage, and when he is confronted with uncomfortable questions about the mounting scandals...he stays mute."

When Pence has fallen under the media spotlight it has often been over backlash over his anti-LGBT views and opposition to abortion rights.

One recent Rolling Stone headline asked: "What will it take for Mike Pence to respect LGBTQ Americans?" after Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who is gay, was attacked by two people who yelled racial and homophobic slurs and proclaimed "MAGA country," according to police. Many have criticized the vice president and his administration's policies for fueling discrimination against LGBT people.

"It's hardly surprising that the homophobic attack appears to have been perpetrated by supporters of the Trump administration," Rolling Stone writer Ryan Bort wrote earlier this month, asserting that "Pence is explicitly anti-LGBTQ and has been for a long time." Bort also noted that last month Pence's wife, Karen, also made headlines after accepting a teaching job at a school that prohibits LGBTQ students and faculty members.

"The attack on Smollett is one of countless reminders that Pence is not just some bigoted old white guy leafing through the Bible for passages that will rationalize his hatred; he's the vice president of the United States, and the Trump administration's tacit endorsement of discrimination against the LGBTQ community only emboldens people to express their hate in public, including with violence," Bort said.

While Pence has faced significant scrutiny over his stance on LGBTQ issues and reproductive rights, however, he has, for the most part, managed to avoid the microscopic level of attention that the president has received since his presidential campaign started. And if his general absence from the news cycle is intentional, then it appears to be working to some degree, if CNN's recent poll is any indication.

Meanwhile, a record low percentage of respondents, 5 percent, said they have never heard of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the California Democrat making deadly headlines over her ongoing battle with Trump over his bid to build his long-promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Of those who had heard of Pelosi, however, 47 percent said they had an "unfavorable opinion" of the House speaker, while 42 percent said they had a favorable opinion. Six percent said they had no opinion at all.

GettyImages-1126768547
Vice President Mike Pence speaking at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center after meeting with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders on February 1, in Doral, Florida. A new poll suggests that 12 percent of Americans do not know who Mike Pence is. Joe Raedle/Getty