How Much Does a VP Pick Really Matter?.
One of the most anticipated announcements of the 2020 presidential campaign season is now mere days away: presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate. Based on reports, the Biden campaign is deciding between two options: Senator Kamala Harris and former UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Political observers are writing about how the decision should be made, what it could mean for the Biden campaign and its fundraising efforts, and how Republican strategists will respond. Media coverage can make it seem as if a VP could be the ticket to the White House, but when you look back at the last 50 years of presidential campaigns, history tells a different story. Running Mates Are Often Chosen for the Wrong Reasons Conventional wisdom holds that vice-presidential candidates offer one of three advantages:
- Home state appeal: campaigns pick VP candidates who hail from a particular swing state that they hope to win in November.
- Regional appeal: campaigns pick a VP candidate who will appeal to swing voters in a broader region of the country where the presidential candidate is perceived to have weaker appeal (e.g. the south or the midwest).
- Demographic appeal: although a more recent trend, campaigns may aim to select VP candidates based on their potential to energize certain voting blocs along gender, ethnic, or other demographic lines.
- Biden is 77 years old; if he wins this November, he will be the oldest president in U.S. history when he is sworn in. For better or worse, this may make the question of “who’s next in line?” a more pressing concern.
- Biden might not run for reelection if he wins and has reportedly considered pledging to be a one-term president at several points in his campaign. If he did choose to only serve one term, his VP choice would have an enormous platform to campaign from and a considerable advantage in the 2024 race.
- Demand continues to grow among many voting blocs for better racial representation in politics. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar publicly withdrew her name from consideration for vice president and called for the position to be filled by a woman of color. Biden’s choice could end up signaling to many that the Democratic party is making a more substantive commitment to racial justice and racial equity moving forward.