Thursday, August 21, 2008

Does the VP choice matter?

For the past few weeks, the political press has been waiting breathlessly for the most anticipated announcement of the 2008 Election campaign: the vice-presidential nominations. But does the actual nomination matter as much as the media would have us believe? Does the actual nomination have any real influence on the vote?

Pundits will tell you that by selecting a particular candidate will all but guarantee delivery of a swing state for the ticket. Others will tell you that a VP nominee's experience will "balance the ticket" or counterbalance the presidential candidate's weaknesses by bringing expertise in a given area such as foreign policy or economic issues.

Personally, I don't believe a bit of it. In selecting a VP nominee, a candidate really only needs to think about one thing (besides the obvious question of whether their selection could step into the role of President under a worst-case scenario).

The main thing that the presidential candidate needs to guard against is destroying their chances at getting elected by making a lousy vice-presidential choice.

For the most part, vice-presidential candidates don't have a whole lot of influence over the success or failure of the ticket. Most voters aren't thinking about who is in the number two slot in decided where to cast their vote. If you don't believe me, try finding a poll that shows how much voters were influenced by the vice-presidential rather than presidential nominee. I doubt you'll find one because it's not a question that's asked.

So why does the media pay so much attention to this decision? Mostly because it gives pundits something to talk about in the slow months between the end of the primary season and the beginning of the conventions. It really isn't as much about the merits of the candidate selected.

Once each candidate has selected their respective running mate ask yourself this question: has your decision of who to vote for changed because of who would be the vice-president? I doubt that it will. While pundits will yammer on about what a big deal it is that this person or that person has been selected we'll all know better. It still comes down to who's on top of the ticket.

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