Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Thoughts on the VP picks

I'm tired of the swing-state theories.

Every four years, members of the national media spend countless hours speculating on which vice presidential contenders could deliver this state or that state in the general election. Every four years, they get it wrong.

This is not an a storyline, although given the amount of time the political junkies devote to this topic, you'd think swing-state delivery was some sort of sacred barometer on how the Obamas and McCains of the world go about choosing their running mates.

In the last 30 years, there couldn't be a more irrelevant criteria.

Take a look:

In 2004, John Kerry picked John Edwards, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination. Edwards brought youth and "change" to the ticket, but was never really expected to deliver North Carolina. And he didn't.

In 2000, Al Gore chose Democratic turncoat Joe Lieberman, whose home state of Connecticut is irrelevant on the electoral map. George W. Bush chose Wyoming's Dick Cheney as his running mate. With or without Cheney, it's safe to say that Wyoming and its three electoral votes were safely in the Republican column.

In 1996, Bob Dole chose Jack Kemp, who hailed from New York, not exactly a flip-flopper on the red-blue state spectrum.

In 1992, Bill Clinton tabbed Al Gore from neighboring Tennessee. The Volunteer State indeed went blue, a turnaround from its 1988 red status. But given that both Clinton and Gore hailed from neighboring southern states, Gore wasn't looked at as a swing-state VP.

In 1988, George H. Bush chose first-term senator Dan Quayle of Indiana ... and who really knows why? Indiana has gone for a Republican every year since 1964, when it narrowly gave its electoral purse to LBJ. Quayle was not a swing-stater.

On the Democratic side, Michael Dukakis picked Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen, you know, to shore up his Texas base that he so clearly was going to win? Hell, he would have been far better off using the swing-state theory. (And would also have been better off not letting Willie Horton out of prison, and then driving that silly tank down the street as well).

In 1984, Walter Mondale tabbed Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate for one of the worst defeats in Democratic history. She came from New York, allegedly a Democratic base.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan shored up his right-wing base by tabbing Bush Sr. from Texas.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter picked Minnesota's Walter Mondale as his running mate. You could make the argument that Carter, a southerner, picked Mondale to add some Midwest muscle to the ticket. But Minnesota has been gone Democratic in every election but one since 1932. It's the only state that went to Mondale in '84. It's not a swing state.

Swing-state vice presidential theories have been dead for a long time. It's time for lazy journalists to retire this sorry excuse of a storyline.



At 6:46 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

So who are your VP predictions??


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