Quick Hit Friday: The… VICE-Presidential Power Rankings??

(A four-post week from PPFA?! My apologies. This is the week before exams at my school, or what turns into “review week.” That means no grading and minimal lesson planning. What else am I supposed to do with this unusual amount of free time? Drugs?)

Considering all analysis of presidential politics is premature more than seven months before voting and still weeks before the first debate, I ask the following: why not get even more ahead of ourselves and start considering the most likely vice presidential candidates? Who will probably join the Democratic nominee in the party’s quest to take down the Trump-Pence ticket?

Interestingly, I think we have some obvious contenders, though they of course depend on who Democrats elect as their nominee. Identity politics being what it is, the Democrats’ strategy to “balance a ticket” is no longer geographic, but demographic. Surely we can all agree it’d be shocking if the Democratic ticket is comprised of two white males, two females, or two minorities. The Democrats’ goal will instead be to unify as many of the party’s demographic and ideological constituencies as possible.

Therefore, I’ll do a quick three-to-five most likely VP nominee depending on the presidential nominee, and I’ll divvy up the nominees by their demographic group. I’m almost positive this isn’t politically correct, so buckle up, snowflakes.

The Establishment or Moderate White Guys’ most likely VP nominees
Possible nominees: Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Seth Moulton, John Delaney
Vice Presidential ranking:

  1. Stacey Abrams — She’s interested in higher office, provides multiple core demographic balances, and she better connects with progressives than…
  2. Kamala Harris — Though she actually has one of the most progressive records in the Senate, her history as a prosecutor has earned resistance from progressives. Still, demographically, she perfectly compliments a white male nominee, and she’ll have a bunch of delegates at the convention to help unify it. If I had a broader VP Power Ranking without assuming who the nominee is, she’d be #1.
  3. Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris (tie) — It will be one of those two.

The Outsider/Anti-establishment or Progressive White Guys’ most likely VP nominees
Possible nominees: Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Jay Inslee, Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Eric Swalwell, Mike Gravel
Vice Presidential ranking:

  1. Kamala Harris — See above.
  2. Stacey Abrams — See above.
  3. Amy Klobuchar — Klobuchar on the ticket should enthuse women and calm establishmentarians, moderates, and other Rust Belt Democrats, but the 40 percent of the party that’s minority might ask, “What about us?!”

The Minority Males’ most likely VP nominees
Possible nominees: Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, Wayne Messam
Vice Presidential ranking:

  1. Elizabeth Warren — Assuming Booker or Castro are the nominee, the party will want to reach out to the left wing of the party. Warren provides demographic and political balance. (If it’s Yang, I’d skip down to Klobuchar as the #1.) (And it won’t be Messam.)
  2. Sherrod Brown — It’d be a classic appeal to working class white guys, particularly those from the Rust Belt states where Trump won a narrow margin. It’s also a bet that the 60 percent of Democrats who are women are not in danger of staying home on election night when they finally get their chance to vote against Donald Trump.
  3. Amy Klobuchar — See above if it’s Yang.  For Booker and Castro, this brings multiple demographic balances, but I do think the Left would threaten a revolt to the Green Party. She’s a distant third.
  4. Tulsi Gabbard — Maybe? The Left really likes her, but earlier stances on Syria and LGBT issues spook most of the party. Also — a white-less ticket.

The Establishment or Moderate White Woman’s most likely VP nominees
Possible nominees: Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand
Vice Presidential ranking:

  1. Andrew Gillum — Assuming he weathers recent controversy, he would make a better appeal to progressives than Castro or Booker.
  2. Julian Castro — If he shows well in the debates, I’d move him up. So far, however, he looks like he’d be an even more boring vice presidential nominee than the last one. Still, I suspect he’s vetted after he reportedly made Hillary Clinton’s 2016 shortlist.
  3. Beto O’Rourke — O’Rourke’s appeal is to crossover voters, especially in the west, which could double-down Klobuchar’s strength or alleviate Gillibrand’s weakness outside of the northeast and women. He also speaks Spanish — a pitch to Florida and the southwest when a lily white northern candidate is on top of the ticket — while also not keeping white men off the ticket altogether.
  4. Cory Booker — Booker might look the part, but the double-down on establishment Senators would alienate some on the Left.

The Outsider/Anti-Establishment or Progressive White Woman’s most likely VP nominees
Possible nominees: Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Marianne Williamson
Vice Presidential ranking:

  1. Cory Booker — Booker is a much better fit here. Strong favorite.
  2. Beto O’Rourke — O’Rourke’s chameleonic nature means he can work well here too.
  3. Julian Castro — Castro, thanks to years in President Obama’s cabinet, also feels more establishment-y than not, making him a good minority pairing to an outsider/progressive white woman.
  4. Andrew Gillum — This list looks familiar, so let’s throw in…
  5. Pete Buttigieg — Just as it does your grandfather, the gay thing worries me. Polls show that about a quarter of Americans, including a fifth of independents, are still uneasy about a gay president, and Buttigieg’s presence on the ticket might fire up any moral conservatives that hesitate to support the President.

Kamala Harris
Possible nominees: Kamala Harris
Vice Presidential ranking:

  1. Sherrod Brown — This could be an extremely strong ticket that checks all the boxes for all but the most unrealistic Leftists.
  2. Tim Ryan — If Brown’s not interested. He was also vetted four years ago.
  3. Beto O’Rourke — Him again?
  4. Bob Casey, Jr. — With Florida and Ohio likely tipping toward the President, Pennsylvania becomes the most relevant battleground state in the election. Its senior Senator would be an explicit pitch to the state after its disappointment that Joe Biden is not the party’s nominee. The reason Casey doesn’t show up more often today is that he has a history of pro-life positions. Still, with Harris probably electing for a white male from the Rust Belt, Casey would probably find his way onto the short list.

See you next week, when I hopefully won’t subject you to four posts.


6 thoughts on “Quick Hit Friday: The… VICE-Presidential Power Rankings??”

  1. […] 9. Julian Castro (13): Castro has made quite the climb of his own. If I were ranking candidates on their combined first and second debate performances, Castro would be third. Though voters agree he did well, that hasn’t translated to much first-choice support. Of the ten candidates to qualify for the third debate, his was by the thinnest margin (five qualifying polls, one over the minimum). I still don’t see how his current numbers could possibly turn viable nationally, particularly with neither Iowa nor New Hampshire being good states for him, which will make him irrelevant by Nevada and South Carolina. Still, he’s looking like a great VP pick. […]


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