Today is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming Florida primary, or to change party registration in order to vote in a different party’s primary. Go to www.registertovoteflorida.gov to register to vote or to change party affiliation.
The Florida primary is on March 17, two weeks after ‘Super Tuesday.’ If you’re already registered to vote, you may choose to enroll in vote-by-mail. Go to www.votefromhome.miami to request a vote-by-mail ballot. Note that this request will remain in effect until you countermand it.
Florida is very free and easy with postal ballots, which I think undermines democracy in several ways, notably that it makes ballot fraud easier (e.g. ‘ballot harvesting’ — a South Florida specialty — and forgery), and that it undermines the secret ballot (e.g. making it easier to sell votes since the seller can prove how he voted, and also enabling pressure from family members demanding to see the ballot). But postal voting can be very convenient. Whether they count the ballot is of course a matter of faith.
Remember: Florida has closed primaries, which means you must be registered as a Democrat to vote in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, or a Republican to vote in Republican primaries. If you are registered as an independent (or no party preference), you don’t get to vote in any party’s primary.
There is a state constitutional amendment making its way through the system to require open primaries, but I’m not a great fan of it.
At a town hall in Lebanon, New Hampshire, on Sunday, a voter asked the presidential hopeful if she ever whispers to her golden retriever Bailey’s ear at night, “Who is going to be my Mike Pence? Who is gonna look at me with adoring eyes?”
Who might the four leading Democratic candidates (Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren), choose as their running mate if they were to get the nomination? Who should they pick to maximize their chances?
As Presidents delegate more real responsibilities to their Veeps, a presidential candidate’s choices are increasingly a matter of personal chemistry. The candidates also consider expertise, such as foreign policy or legislative experience. Sometimes, candidates even consider who could safely run the country. (But see Palin and Pence.) As a result, these choices are increasingly difficult for outsiders to predict. Nonetheless, it’s a fun parlor game. Remember, this isn’t about who you want, but who you think best fits the electoral calculations.
Let’s start with some basic political considerations:
It helps if a Veep can pull in a swing state. Indeed, that used to be pretty much all Vice Presidents were thought to be good for. Trouble is, in these polarized times there are increasingly few politicians who are true favorite sons or daughters with that kind of pull beyond what the presidential nominee brings to the ticket. So this consideration has faded if only because almost no one satisfies it. Al Gore couldn’t even carry Tennessee for Bill Clinton. This consideration still weighs against picking a Veep from a safely Democratic state such as California, like Senator Kamala Harris.
Geographic diversity matters. Even if there isn’t someone who could be counted on to deliver Wisconsin, Ohio, or Florida, or maybe even Arizona, geographic diversity has value. In particular, a Democratic ticket with two northeasterners would likely face a disadvantage. If Sanders or Warren or even Biden is the nominee, they’ll want to look well beyond their neighboring states.
Other forms of diversity also matter. It helps if a Veep can appeal to a demographic or ideological group where the candidate is perceived to be weak. Modern history offers lots of examples: Pence (evangelicals); Biden (white “regular guys”); Reagan’s choice of the first Bush (moderate Republicans – back when they were numerous enough to matter); Mondale (the so-called liberal wing that suspected Carter). Occasionally, Veeps are presented as providing a skill set (e.g. Biden’s foreign policy experience, Cheney’s supposed gravitas) that the candidate is seen to lack.
Another modern consideration is whether the electorate can see the Veep nominee as a potential President. Sarah Palin’s candidacy is an object lesson in the costs to the campaign if the Veep fails that test. A similar issue is whether the Veep nominee has ever been exposed to the unique rigors and scrutiny of a national campaign. Palin is also a lesson in the risks of picking someone who hasn’t. Sen. Thomas Eagleton notoriously had escaped scrutiny of a his history of ECT therapy, and when that came out days after his being named by George McGovern, Eagleton got dropped from the ticket; the incident torpedoed whatever small chance McGovern had of being elected.
An additional consideration applies only if the candidate is thinking of picking a sitting Senator as a running mate: Who will appoint the Senator’s replacement if s/he gets elected Vice President? If Democrats have any hope of getting to even a tied Senate, the last thing they want to do is give up a sitting Senator’s seat. Here’s a list of the leading Senatorial presidential candidates, and their home-state governors:
While all eyes are focused on Russian interference in US elections (or, in the case of reality deniers, on imagined Ukrainian interference), a force planning to intervene in our domestic affairs is marshaling on our southern border.
“The great mismatch that’s happening right now is Biden looks like he could beat Trump on paper but not in person,” said Mr. Jentleson, the Warren-supporting strategist, “and Warren looks like she could beat Trump in person but not on paper.”