Veepstakes could be the ticket for also-rans – Boston Herald

In the most recent Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald-NBC10Boston poll, it appears that some candidates may have a shot to stay in the race, but as potential vice presidents rather than at the top of the ticket.

Among Democrats, in a surprise twist, Pete Buttigieg beat out Joe Biden, a former vice president, as the highest-ranked vice president option. Among those same Democrats, Elizabeth Warren came in third, with Amy Klobuchar in fourth. Among Independent voters who plan to vote in the Democratic primary, Amy Klobuchar was the top vice presidential candidate, with Pete Buttigieg in a close second, and Elizabeth Warren in third.

The choices for potential vice president reflect some changes in favorability that were influenced by the Iowa results as well as Friday’s debate. Klobuchar’s favorability numbers have improved since Iowa, as have Buttigieg’s. Joe Biden’s favorability numbers have dropped slightly since Iowa, as have Elizabeth Warren’s.

Perhaps most interesting is Bernie Sanders, who is in a virtual tie with Pete Buttigieg overall, came in fifth as a possible vice president option among Democrats but received no votes from independents in this category. This likely reflects Sanders’ polarized favorability numbers among independent voters, where he, and Elizabeth Warren, have the highest somewhat unfavorable/very unfavorable numbers of the top candidates.

The data may also suggest voters’ general ideas about vice presidential candidates. Historically, vice presidential candidates are chosen to appeal to whatever policy, party segment or demographic that the presidential candidate does not currently draw in. Both Sanders and Warren are arguably the most progressive of the current candidates, and the numbers seem to suggest that voters prefer a more moderate vice presidential candidate.

The leading vice president candidates, Buttigeig and Klobuchar, are both Midwesterners, from Indiana and Minnesota respectively. Vice presidential candidates, beyond appealing to specific policy or party segment, are also often selected for their specific regional appeal, their potential ability to rally support in specific, relevant states.

Of course, none of the candidates still in the race began this journey hoping to come in second. And we are starting to see some clear policy disagreements emerging among the candidates that may limit their willingness to concede to a second-choice position with their competitor.

But keep in mind that George H.W. Bush, when running against Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential primaries, referred to Reagan’s economic plan as “voodoo economics.” Bush also stayed in the primary race long after Reagan was going to have the votes to become the Republican nominee, in part to force Reagan to choose him as his running mate. Reagan would eventually do so, and they won in 1980 and 1984. Then Bush moved on to become president himself in 1988. So the antagonists can sometimes become allies, and when they work together, sometimes they win.

Christina Cliff is an assistant professor of political science and security studies at Franklin Pierce University.

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