Choosing a running mate isn't exactly rocket science
Data shows that general election voters don't seem to care about the president's right-hand man. The idea VP will need to have a few key traits, though.
The last presidential primary of 2016 wrapped up Tuesday evening. After months of voting, Washington DC finally had its say, even though the choices were a bit limited.
For Republicans there was a small surprise; Marco Rubio won the district, picking up ten more delegates. Meanwhile, GOP frontrunner and last-man-standing Donald Trump finished a distant third behind John Kasich.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton swept Bernie Sanders by a wide margin. The two met Tuesday evening after the polls closed to discuss the next steps.
As presumptive nominees Clinton and Trump prepare for their party conventions this summer, both have turned to the next phase of the election process: picking a running mate. But how to chose the right one?
Take Two tackled the art of VP picking with two guests:
- Rachel Van Sickle-Ward, associate professor of political science at Pitzer College
- Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton and co-author of the book "The VP Advantage: How Running Mates Influence Home State Voting in Presidential Elections"
Chris, there has been a lot of buzz recently about who both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may have on their shortlists. When you look at past VP picks, how much do running mates matter in the general election?
"I think the general rule is they're unlikely to make the difference; first and foremost I think people are voting for a presidential candidate. It's a lot harder to judge what cost and benefits are associated with electing a certain person as vice president than it is calculating the cost and benefits of electing a certain person as president, so I think that's the first rule to start with.
Some historical examples when it might have made a difference: certainly we hear about what effect Sarah Palin may have had. There's something of a cottage industry of research on this. It seems to suggest that she hurt the McCain ticket. That's an old rule that goes back to — I believe it was Richard Nixon — who coined the idea that vice presidential candidates can't help, they can only hurt."
Devine adds that vice presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden did bolster the tickets of their respective presidents, giving them added experience points.
Rachel, we do have our presumptive nominees, and I want to look at some of the specific traits they'll be looking for. Let's start with Hillary Clinton. What does the perfect VP look like for her?
"There really isn't a perfect candidate. There's no silver bullet VP that's going to dramatically change the consequences in the 2016 general election — that's just not what the data tends to show us about VP picks. There is an advantage to having someone that can really reinforce the message [...] and someone to shore up the base and get out those reliable voters."
Well, if you talk about the base, does that mean Bernie Sanders might have a chance there?
"No. I don't think Bernie Sanders is going to be the veep pick, in a word."