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The Evidence

It was my theory that the Biden pick was a misstep and was hishandled by the Obama campaign. It’s difficult to test the veracity of such claims, but this poll (via Gary Gross, who really needs to learn how to properly use the phrase “begs the question”) appears to show the electorate was unmoved by the selection of Senator Joe Biden:

This results in Biden potentially having a net positive impact on voter support for the Democratic ticket of +7 percentage points — small by comparison with other recent vice presidential selections.

• A net 17% of nationwide registered voters said they were more likely to vote for John Kerry in 2004 on the basis of his selection of John Edwards as his running mate (24% more likely and 7% less likely).

• A net 12% of voters reported being more likely to vote for Al Gore in 2000 on account of his choosing Joe Lieberman (16% more likely and 4% less likely).

• A net 18% of voters indicated they were more likely to vote for Bob Dole in 1996 on the basis of his choice of Jack Kemp to complete the ticket (26% more likely and 8% less likely).

• A net 25% of voters were more likely to vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 on account of Al Gore (33% more likely and 8% less likely).

The only recent vice presidential choices to spark less voter reaction than Biden were Dick Cheney in 2000 (net 4%, with 14% more likely and 10% less likely) and Dan Quayle in 1988 (net score of 0, with 10% more likely and 10% less likely).

The mechanism of the voter reaction can’t be known. I think the Obama campaign didn’t properly use the potential earned media from their VP pick announcement to maximum effect. It might simply be the fact nobody really knows who Biden is. It might even be demographics, Biden might not be helping Obama where he really needs it (shockingly enough, Obama probably has the east coast elite crowd locked up already).

This isn’t a huge blunder on Obama’s part, the Convention will give him a healthy bounce anyway. However, it might be indicative of the campaign to come.


One Response

  1. It’s already started, but I think Biden will end up getting railed for touting his Roman Catholic membership all the while being extremely in favor of the pro choice/abortion rights stance.
    It seems the archbishop of the Denver diocese has already publicly confronted him. I think this will end up hurting Obama. Catholics can, have and will vote for Democrats on the national ticket, but they will not vote for a Catholic Democrat (i.e. a Catholic who supports abortion rights, i.e. John Kerry).
    I don’t think there’s any way Biden can spin his pro choice record into something that will tip the largest religious voting block (Catholics) in Obama’s favor.

    John McCain solidified at least 52 percent of the Catholic vote when he answered Rick Warren “When does life begin?” question with a one-word answer: “Conception.”

    2000 Bush got 47 percent of Catholics when he ran against Gore (who is not Catholic).
    2004 Bush got 52 percent of Catholics when he ran against Kerry (a Catholic).

    For some reason politically moderate and liberal Catholics will vote for a Democrat who is pro-choice, but they are much less likely to vote for one of their own who is pro-choice. I personally think its bc folks like Archbishop Chaput have proven in their message to their laity.

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