Palin Could Make the Difference In This Close Race

September 03, 2008

Will Barack Obama and John McCain's picks for their running mates affect the election? I asked some leading political science professors what research on this topic revealed. Their answer: Running mates usually don't matter, but this may be an unusual election.

John Petrocik of the University of Missouri, Columbia told me his analysis of vice presidential choices between 1972 and 2004 showed they had an impact of "less than 1%" on the outcome of the election. "Running mates have a significant impact," said James E. Campbell of the State University of New York at Buffalo, "but only in their home state." If their home state is small or mid-sized, they add 2.5 points to the ticket's vote there. If they're from a big state like California, Texas or New York, the ticket's bump is half that.


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