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The Conversation


Tim Kaine and Mike Pence both have been described as boring.

Many Americans still don’t know who they are, and they share their parties’ tickets with two of the most controversial and unpopular presidential candidates in modern political history. So, it’s a safe bet that their first and only debate on Tuesday night will not draw the record-setting ratings of last week’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – or even come close.

With the possible exception of 2008, when Joe Biden and Sarah Palin were vice presidential candidates, running mates simply are not the focal point of presidential elections. Their effect on vote choice is minimal. Research in our recently published book, “The VP Advantage: How Running Mates Influence Home State Voting in Presidential Elections,” shows that running mates generally do not influence voting in their home state, let alone at the national level. Even in the short term, Gallup polling data suggest that vice presidential debates rarely change voters’ opinions.

So, why take these candidates seriously?

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The Conversation US

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Boston, MA