Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

There seem to be at least two major VP possibilities - Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine - who potentially stand to help Obama carry a swing state.  Mitt Romney may help McCain win Michigan or, less likely, Tim Pawlenty may help McCain win Minnesota.  

However, I keep hearing people say, "The Vice Presidential nominee never actually matters in terms of carrying a state." These people go on that the last time a VP nominee truly carried his home state was in 1960, when LBJ carried Texas.  That got me thinking, how often has a VP nominee really even been asked to carry a swing state since then, and how often has that VP nominee succeeded?  So here goes - here are the VP's selected by presidential nominees since Kennedy:


Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) - Johnson won MN easily in landslide election.

William Miller (R-NY) - Johnson won NY easily in landslide election.


Edmund Muskie (D-ME) - Humphrey won ME easily.  Muskie may have helped put Maine out of reach.

Spiro Agnew (R-MD) - Nixon may have wanted to make a play for MD, but he did not come particularly close to doing so.  


Sargent Shriver (D-MD) - Nixon won MD easily in a landslide election.


Walter Mondale (D-MN) - Mondale probably helped to put MN out of reach, but Carter very probably would have won it anyway.

Bob Dole (R-KS) - Ford won KS by 7.5%.  Dole probably helped, but it was not really in play.


George Bush (R-TX) - TX was probably a place that Reagan wanted to shore up, given that Carter won it in 1976.  In the end, Reagan won TX easily.  


Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY) - Certainly one that Mondale would have hoped to win.  Reagan won narrowly as part of his landslide.  


Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) - TX not in play.  Safe R.

Dan Quayle (R-IN) - IN not in play.  Safe R.


Al Gore (D-TN) - Clinton won Tennessee by nearly 5%.  Gore almost certainly helped, but Clinton ran strongly in the region and may have won without Gore.


Jack Kemp (R-NY) - NY not in play.  Safe D.


Joe Lieberman (D-CT) - CT not in play.  Safe D.

Dick Cheney (R-TX/WY) - TX/WY not in play.  Safe R.


John Edwards (D-NC) - NC not really in play.  Safe R.

Overall, these VP nominees were 9-7 in their home states.  However, none of them were really asked to carry "swing" states.  The one exception may have been Gore in 1992, but his home state was one where fellow Southerner Bill Clinton would probably have run strongly without Gore, and geography was probably not the main motivation in selecting Gore.  Then Gore went and lost TN in his bid for Preznit in 2000!

A few other home states (Dole 1976; Mondale 1976; Muskie 1968; Agnew 1968) may have been thought to be in play at some point, but were not really "swing" states and did not end up close.  The rest (Edwards 2004; Lieberman 2000; Kemp 1996; Quayle 1988; Bentsen 1988; Ferraro 1984; Bush 1980; Shriver 1972; Humphrey 1964; Miller 1964) were either safe states or were part of landslide elections where no seat was safe.  

My conclusion, then, is that the ability of a VP nominee to carry a swing state is largely untested since 1960 because VP nominees have by and large not been selected to carry swing states.  The closest example - Al Gore in 1992 - came up roses.  

In short, there does not seem to be any evidence in recent history that a VP nominee generally will not be able to carry a swing state if selected for that purpose.  It's just untested.

So take that, people who throw this theory around, including my colleagues with whom I had lunch today!  HIYAA!

Tags: Election, vice presidents (all tags)



Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?


In 1960 LBJ carried TX for JFK and IMHO he really helped seal the deal and carry OH as well.


by giusd 2008-08-04 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

A VP might be able to push a candidate over the hump in a state that is really close and is good for the Presidential candidate or party  depending on how strong that VP is in that state .

So a confluence of factors has to be in play like the strenght of the VP  , leaning of state , demographics etc.

For example I believe Clinton on the ticket can conceiveably push Obama over the top in OH and Fl because of her strength in that state among demos who largely her loyal to her and could be somewhat hesistant to back Obama over Mccain if she wasn't on the ticket.

She could also help lock up blue states that are on the verge like PA .

That said you can only know on election night.

by lori 2008-08-04 06:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

I agree with you about Hillary.  She is unique because of the incredible primary that they had.  SO MANY people ACTUALLY voted for her in so many states that it would probably have an impact in a variety of places.  

I've come around to wanting Hillary on the ticket, but I think it's going to be Bayh.

by SpideyDem 2008-08-04 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

I believe it would be Bayh as well .

Note I don't believe the announcement is imminent .

However with regards to Clinton , I continue to believe Clinton not being on the ticket is an integral component to the Mccain campaigns path to victory .

by lori 2008-08-04 07:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

The buzz surrounding Obama/Clinton alone would drown McCain for weeks while the media focuses on the Democrats.  The coverage would not all be positive, but McCain would get nothing.    

by SpideyDem 2008-08-04 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: They're ready either way

Egads!  How quickly I forget.  "John McCain and I bring a lifetime of experience.  Barack Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."  Uggh!  Don't take me back to the primary wars!

by SpideyDem 2008-08-04 07:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

I think they have the potential to swing a very close state, but thats about it.

by Bobby Obama 2008-08-04 06:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

I'm not sure about that.  I'm no Bayh fan policy-wise, but I think he could swing Indiana considerably.  When you have a favorite son like that, there's a real potential.

by SpideyDem 2008-08-04 07:00PM | 0 recs
It really depends on the pol...

I would think that someone like Bayh could really help us in Indiana; especally in such a close state; he could push us over the top, especally since he's absoutley loved there.

Kaine on the other hand may not help in VA much; not especally well liked, and I can't see many coming to the other side from McCain's camp simple because of him.

by zcflint05 2008-08-04 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: It really depends on the pol...

Sorry, I troll-rated you for a second there.  Slip of the mouse.

Agree with you 100% on Kaine and Bayh.

by SpideyDem 2008-08-04 07:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

Very good analysis. A VP can absolutely flip his home state. I get a chuckle out of posters here and elsewhere who assert otherwise.

It's like if I try to hit my driver over a 400 yard lake. I fail 50 consecutive times. And the dunce next to me concludes I can't hit a driver over a water hazard.

Then move to the next hole, a 200 yard carry. No sweat.

Use the VP choice wisely, in a state that is 50/50 or slightly favoring the other side, and we'll have a modern day example of success. Amazing how these things work.

I detailed the specifics in another diary today. Indiana was 14/42 liberal/conservative in 2004. Virginia was 17/38 in '04 and 21/35 in '06. Those numbers are the truth and the light, far more relevant than early state polls.

If we want to pretend otherwise, I won't be surprised. Gore would have been president via Bob Graham in 2000. And Kerry could have prevailed in '04 if he had a viable choice in Ohio, a John Glenn minus 20 years.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-08-04 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

What a horrible choice Lieberman was.  What were we trying to accomplish with that?

Who do you think is the wise choice this time?

by SpideyDem 2008-08-04 07:53PM | 0 recs
How very . . .


by Same As It Ever Was 2008-08-04 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a Vice Presidential Nominee Carry a State?

It depends on the candidate.  Is s/he a state institution from a state family, or merely a politician from that state?  Is s/he so loved in the state s/he is elected statewide in a red state?  

by dhonig 2008-08-05 07:04AM | 0 recs


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