Why Joe Biden Needs a Boring Running Mate

The first thing to remember about vice presidential picks is that they are marketing decisions. That is, once a candidate has been deemed qualified to be president, the only thing that matters is what the choice says about the person at the top of the ticket.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when vice presidents were picked on the assumption (or promise) that they could deliver their home state’s electoral votes. In an era of machine politics, that was probably justified. But it stopped being true a long time ago.

In the modern era, veeps are picked to reinforce a message. The best example of this was Bill Clinton’s selection of Al Gore in 1992. Clinton was running on generational change—for America and for the Democratic Party—so he picked another young, centrist Southern Democrat to buttress his image.

Now, this isn’t to say that Joe Biden should pick another logorrheic septuagenarian who might shout “Give the hamster a bank loan!” at any given moment. You pick a VP to support the message you want to send, not the one your opponents want to stick you with.

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