A reporter asked me, “Do people run for VP, who in the past, how, has it worked or failed?”
My reply: I haven’t looked at this recently, but I recall when studying election forecasting 15 years ago, that the estimated effect of VP choice was something like +3 percentage points in the VP’s home state, so nothing huge.
What about national effects? In 1988, I recall that polls found that Bush alone (in a Bush vs. Dukakis matchup) did about 2 points better than Bush-Quayle vs. Dukakis-Bentsen. But this is probably an upper bound:
– Quayle was a horrible candidate
– And probably, when it came down to the voting booth, it’s my guess that less than 2% of people decided not to vote for Bush on the basis of Quayle.
So probably the biggest effect of VP is that this is a person who’s likely to become president. (I don’t have the stats on this, but the total probability must be pretty high.) If I were choosing, I’d pick the person I’d most like as a future president and probably not worry so much about electoral calculations, fun though they are to think about.