U.S. Election Campaign: Selection of a Vice Presidential Candidate

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

We now approach the season where both U.S. presidential candidates have to pick their vice presidential nominees. As a candidate, this is the most important decision to reach. Once elected, a candidate can distance himself from all promises and policy proposals. The vice president will stick with you for four years, however. You cannot change him or her once in office.

When choosing a running mate, a candidate has to decide what he wants to strategically accomplish with his selection. Conventional wisdom has it that a VP should add something to the ticket. It should help bring a critical state into play, it should cater to a specific socio-economic or political target that the top candidate cannot easily reach himself. This may be sound advice for the case of Donald Trump. Nobody doubts that he wants to shake things up. The question is whether he would be able to implement the promised changes and/or whether he may be offering too much change. A calm, trustworthy person, who knows the political process in Washington D.C., might therefore be a good choice.

But that’s not always the best strategy. Most voters vote for the top of the ticket anyway. When it’s all said and done, the vice presidential candidate is not as important for the election campaign as people might think. For Hillary Clinton it might therefore be courageous to choose someone who re-emphasizes the main message – another woman for example.

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