Thursday, August 06, 2020

Do Senators have an Advantage for being Dem VP Nominee?

This is a non-partisan post. Even so:  I plan to vote for Joe Biden.

(Lance says that whenever I write `this is a non-partisan post'  its partisan anyway.)

I've had posts on predicting VPs before:

In this post I looked at a Nate Silver column a few months ago where they were trying to predict the democratic VP nomination before the Prez nominee was known. Some of what they said seems relevant.

In this post I PREDICTED that bets on INTRADE would not do well on picking VPs since VP picks are hard to predict and often are not from anyone's short list. I DID NOT PREDICT that INTRADE would go out of business.

I came across a statistic recently that seems relevant and inspired this post. Actually this post asks IS this statistic relevant?

From Prez candidate  Harry Truman to Prez candidate Hillary Clinton there have been 15 Dem VP nominees (not  counting incumbents) of which 13 have been Senators:

Harry Truman(Prez)-Alben Barkely. Sen from Kentucky
Adlai Stevenson(Gov-Illinois) -John Sparkman. Sen from Alabama
Adlai Stevenson(Gov-Illinois)-Estes Kefauver, Sen from Tennessee 
John F Kennedy(Sen-Mass)-Lyndon B Johnson, Sen from Texas
Lyndon B Johnson(Prez)-Hubert Humphrey,Sen from Minnesoda
Hubert Humphrey(VP)-Ed Muskie, Sen from Maine
George McGovern Sen-South Dakota)-Sgt Shriver Amb to France, Office of Econ Activity
Jimmy Carter(Gov Georgia)-Walter Mondale- Senator from Minnesota
Walter Mondale(Senator Minnesota)-Geraldine Ferraro Congressperson- NY
Mike Dukakis (Gov Mass), Lloyd Benson-Sen Texas
Bill Clinton(Gov Arkansas), Al Gore Sen from Tennesee
Al Gore (VP), Joe Lieberman Senator from Conn
John Kerry (Sen-Mass), John Edwards Sen from NC
Barack Obama (Sen-Illinois), Joe Biden Sen from Del
Hillary Clinton (Sen-NY), Tim Kaine- Sen Virginia

Of the 15 Dem VP nominees, 13 are Senators

Of the 13 Rep VP nominees, 4 are Senators  see here

My Speculations: 

1)  When a gov runs he wants someone with fed experience. That explains 5 of the cases above.

2) Senators tend to be better known than other politicians, so perhaps being well known is what you need. Note on the Republican Side Paul Ryan was a House member but was well known.

3) Why do the Reps and Dems differ on this? Is the sample size too small to make this question interesting? 

So here is the question: When trying to predict who the Dem VP will be (this year or any year) should being a Senator give someone a plus? A higher weight in a Neural Net? 

Kamala Harris is the favorite on the betting markets.  Is this because she is a Senator?

She has a national profile and has already been vetted since she rana serious campaign  for Prez in the primaries. So I would say that THATS the reason (and other reasons), not that she is a Senator. But would she have been able to run a serious campaign  in the primaries if she wasn't already a Senator? I ask non rhetorically.

ADDED LATER- one of the comments inspired me to also include who the Republicans picked for VP since Truman. Much more variety in the jobs they held prior. This is neither good or bad.

Thomas Dewey (Gov-NY), Earl Warren (Gov-California)

Dwight Eisenhower (General), Richard Nixon (Sen-California)

Richard Nixon (VP), Henry Cabot Lodge (Sen-Mass, Amb-UN)

Barry Goldwater (Sen-Arizona), William Miller (Representive-NY)

Richard Nixon (VP), Spiro Agnew (Gov-MD)

Gerald Ford (Prez, Senator-Michigan), Bob Dole (Senator-Kansas)

Ronald Reagan (Gov California), George Bush (Dir of CIA)

George Bush (VP), Dan Quayle (Sen-Indiana)

Bob Dole (Sen-Kansas), Jack Kemp (Representiative-NY)

George W Bush (Gov-Texas), Dick Cheney (Cabinet)

John McCain (Sen-Arizona), Sarah Palin (Gov-Alaska)

Mitt Romney (Gov-Mass), Paul Ryan (Represenative-NY)

Donald Trump (Businessman-NY), Mike Pence (Gov-Indiana)


  1. Dems pick people they think will get them votes; senators have had a lot of people vote for them. Not sure about Reps, but they probably pick their friends.

  2. LOL, after reading through the whole post I had to google what the hell VP means (I'm not from the US). At least I've also learnt that Harris' first name is spelled as KamAla.

  3. He has said he will pick a woman. If he picks a Senator then to ensure that the state does not turn to the other party, he wants a Democratic Governor. (If Senator is capitalized then I suppose that Govenor is also?) KH fits those criteria. Are there others, besides Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren? My google-fu is too weak to tell.

  4. Hi Bill, In 1972 the original nominee for Democratic VP was Thomas Eagleton, who was a senator from Missouri. His nomination was withdrawn after it was revealed that he had had electroshock treatments for depression. Also, you had a few misspellings:
    It should be Adlai Stevenson, and Tim Kaine.

    1. Thanks for corrections.
      Yes I knew about Eagleton- I decided to keep the post short and to the point and not futz over whether the non-senators were, as they say, `the exception that TESTS the rule' (which makes more sense than `the exception that PROVES the rule')

  5. "When a gov runs he wants someone with fed experience."

    so by converse it should be Gov. Gretchen Whitmer since Biden has fed experience ;)

  6. Interesting. Two different issues here:

    Who DOES the prez cand pick? All Dem Prez nominees since Truman who had Fed Experience still picked someone with Fed Experience.

    Who SHOULD the prez cand pick? It may well do a Senator of VP well to pick a Gov, someone closer to the people. The republican Prez nominees since Truman have picked Govs four times. Two of those times they had Prez experience. I'll add the info to the main post.