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Old 03-05-2019, 12:09 PM
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Why are so few VP selections a defeated rival?


When it comes to selecting a running mate, why do so few of the nominees for POTUS select one of the other candidates who was running against them in the primary? From what I gather the only instance of this in the era of the modern primaries is when Reagan selected Bush Sr. after the 1980 Republican primary. It seems to me that picking one of the other primary candidates would help unify the base after primary season. FWIW I started wondering about this question when I was pondering whether or not Clinton could have won if she had asked Sanders to be her running mate.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:19 PM
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I've wondered this as well. In addition to your example, Biden did run in the primaries before Obama picked him as a running mate. But it does seem like it should be more common.

ETA: Also Kerry picked Edwards after defeating him in the primaries.

Last edited by Defensive Indifference; 03-05-2019 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by FlikTheBlue View Post
When it comes to selecting a running mate, why do so few of the nominees for POTUS select one of the other candidates who was running against them in the primary?
Primaries can get contentious. While I'm sure many candidates are perfectly collegial after one, I wouldn't discount human nature playing a role. AKA the "fuck that guy" syndrome. AKA "that fuckwad implied my business dealings are shady because I don't want to release my private tax records - it'll be a cold day in hell before I ever consider him/her as my running mate."
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Defensive Indifference View Post
I've wondered this as well. In addition to your example, Biden did run in the primaries before Obama picked him as a running mate. But it does seem like it should be more common.

ETA: Also Kerry picked Edwards after defeating him in the primaries.
I should have remembered the Kerry and Edwards one. I didn't even bother to check the 2008 Democratic primary, since the way I recalled that one was as the year of the great Obama vs. Clinton matchup. Looking at the wikipedia link it looks like Biden withdrew after the Iowa caucuses that year.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:44 PM
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I think for three reasons:

1. VPs are typically picked to shore up weaknesses in the candidate (young candidate picks the elder statesman, coastal elite picks the midwestern/southerner, minority candidate picks the white male) and this just rarely happens to line up with the primary opponent.

2. VPs are typically picked after the red-meat throwing contest of the primary as the candidate is trying to tack back towards the middle for the general election, and so the VP pick may trend towards someone that hasn't been tainted by the primary process altogether, or at least one of the earlier candidates that didn't gain traction.

3. After successfully making the case that the primary opponent is the wrong choice for America, displayed poor judgement and isn't fit to lead, it's tough to turn around and tell everyone that they're uniquely qualified to have the #2 job.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:49 PM
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Primaries can get contentious. While I'm sure many candidates are perfectly collegial after one, I wouldn't discount human nature playing a role. AKA the "fuck that guy" syndrome. AKA "that fuckwad implied my business dealings are shady because I don't want to release my private tax records - it'll be a cold day in hell before I ever consider him/her as my running mate."
That, and also, the VP choice is usually from a state where the party thinks it needs more support if it wants to win there. No, that doesn't explain Sarah Palin, does it, although that could have been more of a "we need to get more women to vote Republican; how about a female VP?" decision.
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Old 03-05-2019, 01:39 PM
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It may be that primaries attract mostly committed party voters, and despite the unusual case with Bernie Sanders, they can be expected to mostly vote for the nominated candidate. Primaries generally run to the extreme side of the party.

Once the nomination is secured, you're running towards the center. A VP candidate is often chosen to attract independents and key battleground states. A defeated rival won't attract additional voters that wouldn't already be predisposed to vote for the party nominee.
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Old 03-05-2019, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Defensive Indifference View Post
I've wondered this as well. In addition to your example, Biden did run in the primaries before Obama picked him as a running mate. But it does seem like it should be more common.

ETA: Also Kerry picked Edwards after defeating him in the primaries.
Before that, you've got to go all the way back to Reagan picking Bush in 1980.
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Old 03-05-2019, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by YamatoTwinkie View Post
I think for three reasons:

1. VPs are typically picked to shore up weaknesses in the candidate (young candidate picks the elder statesman, coastal elite picks the midwestern/southerner, minority candidate picks the white male) and this just rarely happens to line up with the primary opponent.

2. VPs are typically picked after the red-meat throwing contest of the primary as the candidate is trying to tack back towards the middle for the general election, and so the VP pick may trend towards someone that hasn't been tainted by the primary process altogether, or at least one of the earlier candidates that didn't gain traction.

3. After successfully making the case that the primary opponent is the wrong choice for America, displayed poor judgement and isn't fit to lead, it's tough to turn around and tell everyone that they're uniquely qualified to have the #2 job.
I think reason 1 that you give would be a reason to pick a previous rival. After all, any candidate's proven weakness is "this group of voters (that supported my opponent) didn't vote for me but they did vote for this other person" so having the other person on their ticket would be shoring up their weakness among those voters.
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:28 PM
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I think reason 1 that you give would be a reason to pick a previous rival. After all, any candidate's proven weakness is "this group of voters (that supported my opponent) didn't vote for me but they did vote for this other person" so having the other person on their ticket would be shoring up their weakness among those voters.
Sure, but in the general election, those voters are *likely* going to hold their nose and vote for the party candidate regardless. Do you want to double down on your base, or broaden out to the independent/middle?
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Old 03-05-2019, 04:46 PM
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It seems to me that a lot of primary opponents just aren't all that competitive. Obama vs. Clinton was notable for the fact that most states even got a chance to hold their primaries, before the winner emerged. If someone's claim to fame is that they put in a solid second-place showing in Iowa and then conceded on Super Wednesday, they're not going to pull in very many voters.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:02 PM
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John F. Kennedy picking Lyndon Johnson as his running mate is pretty much a classic example of why you don't pick a serious rival. While Kennedy and LBJ were respectful toward each other, the presidential staff considered Johnson to be a rival to JFK and worked hard to make sure Johnson was isolated from anything that would have given him any real authority or much of a national platform. Considering LBJ had tried to work his way through smoke-filled rooms to get the nomination, Kennedy's staff probably had good reasons to fear Johnson's ambition.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:27 PM
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John F. Kennedy picking Lyndon Johnson as his running mate is pretty much a classic example of why you don't pick a serious rival. While Kennedy and LBJ were respectful toward each other, the presidential staff considered Johnson to be a rival to JFK and worked hard to make sure Johnson was isolated from anything that would have given him any real authority or much of a national platform. Considering LBJ had tried to work his way through smoke-filled rooms to get the nomination, Kennedy's staff probably had good reasons to fear Johnson's ambition.
If he hadn’t chosen Johnson and instead chosen, say, some other Democratic senator or governor from New England who happened to be older and Protestant to complement his being a younger Catholic, he may well have lost the election to Nixon.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:37 PM
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I agree that, in general, this tactic seems underused. I'm not sure that Bernie Sanders would have been interested in being Hillary's running mate, but if she had allowed him to choose the running mate...might he have come up with someonewho stirred the hearts of the voters more than Tim Kaine? Mayhap...
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:44 PM
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I'm not sure that Bernie Sanders would have been interested in being Hillary's running mate, but if she had allowed him to choose the running mate...
Shoot, hoe about if Obama had put Clinton on the ticket on 08? I don’t think Biden did anything she wouldn’t have in terms of winning that year.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:29 PM
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Shoot, hoe about if Obama had put Clinton on the ticket on 08? I don’t think Biden did anything she wouldn’t have in terms of winning that year.


As far as winning, no. But I strongly believe Biden was picked because of his long experience in the Senate. I don’t think Obama was expecting the complete ‘party of no’ and ‘one term president’ that the Republicans pulled after Obama won. And, perhaps Clinton preferred the office of Secretary of State over VP.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:33 PM
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Before that, you've got to go all the way back to Reagan picking Bush in 1980.


And keep in mind Reagan wanted Gerald Ford first. When the dream team failed to emerge, Reagan fell back on the mainstream Bush as his VP.

In 1988, Bush could easily dumped Quayle for Dole, and probably would have had any more dirt came out about Quayle.
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Old 03-05-2019, 08:39 PM
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When it comes to selecting a running mate, why do so few of the nominees for POTUS select one of the other candidates who was running against them in the primary? From what I gather the only instance of this in the era of the modern primaries is when Reagan selected Bush Sr. after the 1980 Republican primary. It seems to me that picking one of the other primary candidates would help unify the base after primary season. FWIW I started wondering about this question when I was pondering whether or not Clinton could have won if she had asked Sanders to be her running mate.
Quite frankly, I have no idea and wouldn't dare go back and research the first theory that just popped into my head, but how about because as I've heard many times, the top guy wants someone to help him/her in a geographical way, and the other candidates just don't fit the bill at that particular time.
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Old 03-05-2019, 10:03 PM
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Quite frankly, I have no idea and wouldn't dare go back and research the first theory that just popped into my head, but how about because as I've heard many times, the top guy wants someone to help him/her in a geographical way, and the other candidates just don't fit the bill at that particular time.
Obsolete when Clinton picked Gore. For that matter, Clinton/Gore broke most of the rules about picking a VP. Both were young, from the same region, representing the same ideology. And Gore campaigning in 1992 was every bit as dull as Gore campaigning in 2000.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:08 AM
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As far as winning, no. But I strongly believe Biden was picked because of his long experience in the Senate. I don’t think Obama was expecting the complete ‘party of no’ and ‘one term president’ that the Republicans pulled after Obama won. And, perhaps Clinton preferred the office of Secretary of State over VP.
Seriously? It's patently obvious that Biden was picked because a ticket without at least one white male was unthinkable. Also, it's pretty well documented that there was little love lost between the Obamas and the Clintons. No way Obama was having them that close.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:50 AM
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Seriously? It's patently obvious that Biden was picked because a ticket without at least one white male was unthinkable.
And by that point, John Edwards was right out.
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:04 PM
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Obsolete when Clinton picked Gore. For that matter, Clinton/Gore broke most of the rules about picking a VP. Both were young, from the same region, representing the same ideology. And Gore campaigning in 1992 was every bit as dull as Gore campaigning in 2000.
As I recall, Gore was viewed as a young progressive, whereas Bill Clinton was largely regarded as a more center-line pragmatist. It was thought that having two young guns who represented two distinct ideological wings of the party (but far from radical), was the right approach, and all signs are that it worked. There was a clear distinction between Clinton/Gore and Bush/Quayle. The feeling was Bill could energize the labor democrats that the Dems had lost, while Gore had some street cred as a liberal that would keep constituencies that voted for Dukakis and Mondale.
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