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The Conversation


Veepstakes speculation is rampant as we approach the national conventions for both major political parties.

Media reports have detailed the wide array of options available to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as they decide who will be their number twos for this campaign, and perhaps for four or eight years to come.

Who will Trump and Clinton pick? That depends on each candidate’s goals – both for the remainder of the presidential campaign and after Nov. 8. Political observers widely agree that the most important characteristic to look for in a running mate is the ability to serve as president in the event of unforeseen circumstances, like a president’s death, incapacitation, resignation or impeachment.

However, when campaign staff and trusted political advisers vet potential running mates, they are certain to also weigh political considerations. That is, whether a given running mate will help or hurt the presidential ticket, with voters in general or with a key voting group. Particularly if the campaign is at a competitive disadvantage, its strategists may look to the running mate as a potential “game changer.”

The electoral advantage most commonly associated with vice presidential candidates is geographic. In other words, they are expected to deliver their home state or region in the Electoral College. But do they actually deliver?

Usually not.

In our book, “The VP Advantage: How Running Mates Influence Home State Voting in Presidential Elections,” we employed a multi-method approach to empirically test the purported home state advantage. We used both state-level election returns since 1884 and individual-level survey data since 1952 in our analysis. Ultimately, we found no evidence of a general vice presidential home state advantage, on average.

Based upon the data, it is unlikely that Hillary Clinton’s or Donald Trump’s running mate will deliver a crucial battleground state, like Ohio or Virginia. Instead, the presidential candidates would be wise to select a respected running mate who can effectively serve as vice president.

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The Conversation US

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Boston, MA