- The Washington Times
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The press, pollsters and political strategists are currently at fever pitch now that Joseph R. Biden has made his choice of running mate. That would be Sen. Kamala D. Harris. What next? While interest, melodrama and speculation builds, the nation appears to be revisiting one woman who has already been there and done that.

That would be Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska. The social media #SarahPalin led the national Twitter trends for hours on Tuesday in fact, along with #BidensVP.


Let us recall that on Aug. 29, 2008, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain announced Mrs. Palin as his running mate. She took the leap. The decision created a sensation, with multiple press account noting that Mrs. Palin “electrified” the audiences at the Republican National Convention that followed only three days later.

Pollsters went wild speculating on the effect the sensational new female running mate would have on female voters. Pundits were impressed with Mrs. Palin’s prowess as a speaker, her straightforward style and energy, as well as her candid description of herself as just another Alaska hockey mom. Fashion mavens went ballistic over the fact that Mrs. Palin favored wearing red-soled Naughty Monkey high heels on the campaign trail.

She went on to be named to Time magazine’s 2010 “100 Most Influential People in the World” list, the Smithsonian Institutes’s “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” and Barbara Walters’ “Ten Most Fascinating People” list two years in a row. She authored six books, starred in several TV shows, and in May appeared on Fox Entertainment’s “The Masked Singer.”

So that cachet is intact, and is a reminder that a previous woman blazed the vice presidential path, Naughty Monkey shoes and all In the last 72 hours, stories about Mrs. Palin have appeared in The Washington Post, Politico, Daily Beast, Yahoo News, National Public Radio, and People Magazine.

THE BIG WHEN

Discussion surrounded the identity of Joseph R. Biden‘s aforementioned big reveal, and its strategic timing. Here are the dates of a few past contenders over the years. Just for the heck of it.

Then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama announced Mr. Biden as his running mate on Aug. 23, 2008. GOP hopeful Mitt Romney announced Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate on Aug. 11, 2012. Then-candidate Donald Trump announced then-Rep. Mike Pence as his running mate on July 15, 2016.

HOW CLOSE WAS IT REALLY?

A dialogue which took place Tuesday morning between two insiders on Fox News offers insight into the timing of Joseph R. Biden’s public announcement of his choice in running mate.

“I want to know how imminent this decision is. Can I walk my dog in the next two hours without worrying that I’m going to miss the vice presidential announcement?” Fox News anchor Dana Perino asked Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“I can’t say anything, but I wouldn’t walk to that dog unless it was just outside. I think you might need to relieve him close to home,” Mr. Garcetti replied.

And he was right.

DO RUNNING MATES ACTUALLY MATTER?

In the meantime, a meticulous new book has delved into the matter in a big way.

Just arrived: “Do Running Mates Matter?: The Influence of Vice Presidential Candidates in Presidential Elections” by Christopher J. Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton, and Kyle C. Kopko, associate professor of political science and director of the legal studies major at Elizabethtown College.

Vice presidents, the authors say, have an increasingly important and meaningful role in politics — fueled by the idea that the person could become president under certain circumstances. The role of vice presidential candidates has also been amplified.

“The takeaway from our book is that VP candidates primarily influence vote choice indirectly, for example, by shaping perceptions of the presidential candidate, which, in turn, influence the vote,” Mr. Devine tweeted Tuesday, also noting that is “normal” for a political campaign to “misdirect” public interest in running mates as a way to build suspense.

Well that should prove interesting with Mr. Biden and his running mate. The book goes into the finer points, though.

“To the extent that our research validates some perceptions of running mate effects, perhaps it will help to inform presidential candidates, their campaigns, and members of the news media when gaming out viable electoral strategies. But, to the extent that our research challenges errant or oversimplified perceptions of running mate effects, then perhaps it will help to divert attention away from illusions of electoral advantage and redirect it toward efforts to identify the person best qualified to serve as vice president,” the authors write.

The book was published May 15 by the University Press of Kansas. Find the first chapter at Universitypressblog.dept.ku.edu.

POLL DU JOUR

• 63% of U.S. adults say they are very or somewhat confident they can attend church “without catching or spreading COVID-19”; 59% of Catholics, 74% of evangelical Protestants, 56% of mainline Protestants and 50% of historically Black Protestants agree.

• 6% overall say their house of worship is currently “open as normal”; 3% of Catholics, 7% of evangelical Protestants, 4% of mainline Protestants and 9% of historically Black Protestants agree.

• 55% overall say their church is “open with modifications” during the coronavirus pandemic; 65% of Catholics, 64% of evangelical Protestants, 45% of mainline Protestants and 35% of historically Black Protestants agree.

• 31% overall say it is closed; 23% of Catholics, 24% of evangelical Protestants, 45% of mainline Protestants and 41% of historically Black Protestants agree.

• 7% overall are unsure about the status of their church; 9% of Catholics, 4% of evangelical Protestants, 6% of mainline Protestants and 15% of historically Black Protestants agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 10,211 U.S. adults conducted July 13-19 and released Monday.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.


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