Does Biden’s Choice for Vice President Matter?

4 mins read

So a funny thing happened when I set out to write this post.

I thought I was going to write about how the conventional wisdom of how choosing a vice president affects electoral strategy is wrong, but ended up learning the personal reasons why the choice does, in fact, matter.

So first, the conventional wisdom.

You hear it all the time: The choice of vice president is important in that it helps the presidential candidate scoop up some additional electoral votes. This is why, the saying goes, that you never see the presidential candidate and their vice president coming from the same home state.

But that’s not what the research says. I read an article that delved into this research (from 2016) and this is what they found:

While presidential candidates typically enjoy a home-state advantage (approximately 3 points to 7 points), vice presidential candidates generally do not. Statistically speaking, the effect is zero.

The research also revealed that the voters from the vice president’s home state cared more about who won the election, but they weren’t more likely to turn out to vote, volunteer, or donate.

Myth busted.

Interestingly, that Politico article also pointed out that despite the research, about half of the news articles about potential VP picks focused on the discussion of the home state advantage. Even presidents writing their memoirs have said that a vice presidential hopeful’s home state was a factor in their decision making.

Yesterday, Biden announced that he’d likely reveal who his vice presidential pick is in early August. Let’s look at how the media writes about the potential choices. Do they mention the home state, or not?

On to the next part of this story…

After I read the article, I was curious to see what some of my readers on social media had to say about the vice presidential pick. So I asked them. Instagram has this great, interactive poll feature and so I asked, does WHO Joe Biden pick as VP matter to you?

Interestingly, down to a one they said that it would not affect whether or not they would vote for Biden, but that yes, the vote mattered. When I chatted with each of them further about it, this is what they told me:

Essentially, it was important to them because they want to know more about him as a presidential candidate. They want to understand how he makes decisions and the reasons he gives for those decisions.

Needless to say, I was fascinated by the conversations and, if any of them are reading this, I want to thank them for engaging in that discussion with me.

I’d love to hear from the rest of you. Leave me a comment (here at the blog, or on social media) and let me know what you think. Does Biden’s pick of VP matter to you?


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