Monday, August 25, 2008

9 Reasons for Selecting a VP

All the talk about Obama picking Joe Biden as his VP candidate started me thinking about the different reasons for choosing a VP. I went over this list with my American Political Parties class today and they helped me expand the list from 7 to 9 (the last two I hadn't thought of. Thanks class!)
  1. Qualified to assume duties as President. Hopefully, this is a minimum requirement for all candidates. With Dan Quayle, I have my doubts.
  2. Help govern. Dick Cheney did nothing to help Bush win, but he has definitely been a major player in helping him to govern. This was likely a consideration when Clinton picked Gore as well.
  3. Reinforce your message. Al Gore probably best qualifies here: two Southern centrist (at the time) Democrats on the same ticket.
  4. Unite the Party. Both parties are made up of different factions. If one of the factions is upset at their candidate, the candidate can compensate by picking someone who represents that faction. This may have been part of Obama's calculation in picking someone who represents the blue-collar Democrats that supported Sen. Clinton in the primaries.
  5. Unite the Country. In 1864, after a long, bloody Civil War, Lincoln picked a Democrat to help unite the country. If McCain were to pick Joe Lieberman, his reasoning might be along those same lines.
  6. Help win a state. This worked in 1960 when Kennedy chose LBJ and won Texas.
  7. Help win a demographic. Pick a woman to capture female votes. Pick a Latino to capture Latino votes. Or, so the reasoning goes. Catholics have been an important swing vote, and Obama picked a Catholic. A coincidence?
  8. Compensate for a weakness. Obama's weakness is his lack of experience, especially on foreign policy. He picks a long serving Democrat with lots of foreign policy experience.
  9. To win the VP debate. Biden has a reputation as a great debater. This may have been part of the calculation as well.
Any other reasons you can think of? It would be nice to have an even 10.


DKay said...

What about the dynamics between the Presidential nominee and the VP? The VP has got to stand behind the Pres on the issues they agree on (which would be easy) and those they don't (which would be difficult). IE: abortion - women's right to choose vs. pro-life.

Theologian Mom said...

I tend to think Biden is more of a liability than an asset in regard to the Catholic vote. Pro-life Catholics (that's a lot of them, even the ones who are dems) would rather vote for a pro-choice non-Catholic VP than a pro-choice Catholic; in the case of the former it's not an intra-Catholic debate whereas the latter raises the question of what makes a Catholic. The debates have already started in the Catholic world, and, frankly, I think Biden's going to hurt Obama's campaign for Catholics. Especially given McCain's choice of a very pro-life woman/mother.

Anonymous said...

well, she COULD help win a demographic, except for the fact that she is ardently anti-choice--even in the cases of rape or incest. I can't imagine that there were any anti-choice women that weren't going to vote for McCain anyway. I am certain that there are exactly zero pro-choice women that will vote for this ticket simply because the VP is a female.