The Top 10 women Joe Biden might pick as vice president, ranked

The Democratic National Convention is set to open in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 17 — whether virtually or in person. And presumably, Biden needs to have picked his vice presidential nominee by then. While Biden and his allies have made some feints at picking his No. 2 far earlier, history suggests that the pick won’t come until sometime later this summer.

As Nathaniel Rakich documented in this terrific FiveThirtyEight post, only two Democratic VP nominees have been announced more than 20 days before the start of the party convention in the last five decades: Thomas Eagleton (by George McGovern) in 1972 and John Edwards (by John Kerry) in 2004. Eagleton was later replaced on the ticket by Sargent Shriver. Not for nothing: Neither of those tickets went on to win.

Rakich adds that the mean announcement date of the VP pick — for both parties — is four days before the opening of the convention, which would put us in the second week of August.

So in short, don’t expect an announcement anytime soon. Biden knows how big a decision this is — and he is going to likely take all the time he can to get it right.

Which, of course, leaves us more time to make (educated) guesses about who he might pick! Below is my list of the 10 women most likely to wind up as Biden’s VP pick. (My rankings from last week are here.) And special shoutout to CNN’s Allison Gordon for all her help on research for this week’s list!

10. Stacey Abrams: If the VP pick came down to which candidate had the most pieces written about her, the former Georgia state House minority leader would win in a romp. But being an object of fascination among prominent liberals is not necessarily the best recommender for being Biden’s choice. (Previous ranking: 10)

Susan Rice
9. Susan Rice: As I noted earlier this week, the former Obama administration national security adviser’s email on Michael Flynn is sort of an anti-smoking gun when it comes to President Donald Trump’s claims of some sort of conspiracy against him led by President Obama. Except that, if you are Biden and you want to make sure that your VP pick, at worst, does no harm, then all the attention Rice is drawing among conservatives likely is a strike against her. (Previous ranking: 6)
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
8. Michelle Lujan Grisham: In the first few VP rankings I released earlier this year, I had the New Mexico governor on the list. I dropped her because of concerns that she was simply not in the mix. Except, according to Lujan Grisham, she is in the mix; Politico reported this week that Lujan Grisham has told her allies that Biden’s team is now vetting her for the job.

As not only the first female Hispanic governor in the country but also from a rapidly growing area of the country, Lujan Grisham makes a lot of sense. (Previous ranking: Unranked)

Florida Rep. Val Demings
7. Val Demings: Politico’s Marc Caputo — one of the best Florida-based journalists in the country — reported over the weekend that the Orlando House member is drawing increasing buzz among donors and Democratic members of Congress as the best pick for Biden. Demings’ resume, which includes being the Orlando police chief, is decidedly unique. (Previous ranking: 8)
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
6. Gretchen Whitmer: Whitmer publicly acknowledged this week that she has had a “opening conversation” with Biden’s campaign about the possibility of being VP. And she continues to play the part of foil to Trump — on everything from coronavirus to Michigan’s efforts on mail-in ballots. Which is a huge boon for her. (Previous ranking: 7)
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
5. Keisha Lance Bottoms: The Atlanta mayor is the least well-known name in the Top 5 but is also the one that has been the most loyal to Biden for the longest time. She continues to be a go-to surrogate for the Biden campaign and a regular fixture on cable TV — talking about everything from Georgia’s decision to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic to Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting. (Previous ranking: 5)
Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto
4. Catherine Cortez Masto: Politico reported this week that Biden is coming under increasing pressure to pick a Latina running mate, which is terrific news for the Nevada senator.
The possibility of Cortez Masto being the pick is getting attention in her home state — and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) continues to push hard on her behalf. (Previous ranking: 4)
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
3. Elizabeth Warren: Earlier this week, at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Warren made clear she is in the VP race to win it. “I think right now people want to see improvements in our health care system, and that means strengthening the Affordable Care Act,” she said — a marked change from her open embrace of “Medicare for All” during her own presidential bid earlier this year. Biden has made clear that he would be disinclined to pick someone who doesn’t share his views on major policies; he is opposed to “Medicare for All,” preferring changes in the ACA. (Previous ranking: 3)
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
2. Amy Klobuchar: Klobuchar’s strongest selling point — aside from her Midwestern roots — is that she is a practical politician who knows how to get stuff done. To that end, Klobuchar’s successful (so far) efforts to push for more mail-in balloting to deal with the coronavirus pandemic is proof-of-concept stuff.
And don’t forget that Klobuchar’s husband contracted Covid-19 and was hospitalized before recovering — a deeply personal story she’ll be able to talk to voters about. (Previous ranking: 2)
California Sen. Kamala Harris
1. Kamala Harris: The California senator has been ranked No. 1 in every single Biden VP list I’ve done — and is generally seen as the front-runner to be the pick. But she certainly isn’t taking that top spot for granted. She hit Trump for his attacks on Michigan’s mail-in ballot efforts in an interview with MSNBC, praised Biden’s judgment in a speech to American Asian Pacific Islander Victory Fund summit and appeared in a live-stream with Everytown for Gun Safety Action and Moms Demand Action. She also got a nice boost from WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart, who declared her Biden’s best VP choice. (Previous ranking: 1)

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly identify Thomas Eagleton as George McGovern’s original vice presidential pick in 1972. Eagleton was later replaced on the ticket by Sargent Shriver.

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