Measuring A VP Nominee's Home State Coattails

This swing-state angle will certainly be part of the Romney Veep stakes debate. From The New York Times' Nate Silver:

Since 1920, major-party nominees for president have carried their running mate’s home state 65 percent of the time; the percentage is slightly higher than that, 72 percent in elections since World War II. This, however, is not that revealing a statistic. If Mr. Romney wanted to guarantee that he will win his running mate’s state, he could pick one from Alabama or Utah. That does not necessarily mean that his choice would be optimal, however, in terms of the electoral math or otherwise.

Instead, what we want to know is how much of a push a vice presidential candidate gives to a nominee relative to how he would do otherwise.

[Historically], it seems likely that the vice presidential nominee’s effect on his or her home state is normally quite modest — perhaps two or three percentage points on average, if a little more in some cases and a little less in others.

To be sure, two or three percentage points in the right swing state is not trivial, but it is probably not enough to outweigh the other strengths and weaknesses that a vice presidential candidate could potentially impart onto the ticket.

Indeed, presidential campaigns in recent years have largely abided by this principle, with recent vice presidential nominees hailing from states like Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Wyoming that did not figure to be competitive.

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published this page in In The News 2012-04-24 11:31:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy