Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris represent the obvious presidential ticket. I projected the pairing before Biden officially declared his presidential aspirations-- when the 2020 Democratic primary kickoff was still in its infancy.
Journalists and pundits can talk
about the forged relationships, the historic nature of having a mixed race woman of color on a presidential ticket. And while those facts are important, what is often missing is an analysis of how data strives strategic decision-making.
Why Vice President Joe Biden:
1) People of color have know this all along: It's going to take an old white guy to beat an old white guy. And that's why people of color overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden during the 2020 Democratic primary. Their goal was to defeat President Trump. This isn't to take anything away from Biden's credentials.
2) Biden has decades of foreign policy expertise, he's affable, unassuming and passionate about helping the average Joe.
3) Biden also served eight years as arguably one of the best vice presidents to an exceptionally popular president, among Democratic voters. He has experience with today's pressing issue from a global pandemic, racial understanding and empathy--even if he doesn't always strike the most polished cord and knowledge of turning around a financial catastrophe comparable to the Great Depression.
Why Sen. Kamala Harris:
1) Kamala Harris talked with Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, every day and often multiple times per day when the two worked as Attorneys General. Beau often directed lavish praise toward Sen. Harris for her political talent, altruism and sharp mind when speaking with his father. Through Sen. Harris' close relationship with Beau, she earned the Bidens' trust and respect. This meant that the two would likely work better than any other pairing during the arduous process of campaigning and governing. The pair's natural chemistry can be seen in this article's feature picture
2) Kamala Harris increases the likelihood that voter turnout will surge past 2016 levels among the Democrats' most loyal constituencies-- Black and Hispanic voters.
3) Kamala Harris is a raw political talent, warmth in front of crowds and superior intelligence besting the nations most brilliant minds. She's grilled the best minds in the nation and have left them utterly dumbstruck-- Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Attorney General William Burr.
4) Kamala Harris is the perfect attacking partner Biden needs to take the fight to Republicans engaging in the sort of jiggery-pokery that create her memorable moments.
5) Kamala Harris' intimate knowledge of the criminal justice system and where it needs reform.
You have to think about getting elected before you can think about governing.
1) Black Voter Turnout. Despite a record number of nearly 140M Americans voting in the 2016 presidential election, Black participation declined--to 59.6 percent-- for the first time in 20 years, according to The Census Bureau. This record decline in participation among Black voters in the 2016 presidential election occurred after the group set two consecutive record high participation rates-- 66.6 percent in 2012 and 65.2 percent in 2008, when a Black candidate, President Obama, appeared on the ballot. In short, Biden learned a lesson from Hillary. Race matters. And when it comes to the race for the Oval Office, who appears on the ticket, and their background, is increasingly important in a more racially conscious--and a more racially contentious-- America.
2) The Margin of Despair. In 2016 President Trump won by the margin of despair. In 2012, President Obama won three critical states: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. By comparison Hillary Clinton lost those states in 2016 by 80,000 combined votes. In Michigan and Wisconsin, Black turnout dropped by a little more than 12 points. In Pennsylvania, Black turnout dropped by about 2 percent. Had Sen. Clinton maintained the same Black turnout in the aforementioned three states, we'd have another President Clinton.
This data puts to rest that the VP selection does not affect voter turnout in the U.S. It's easy to say VP selections aren't difference makers when they've historically overwhelmingly looked the same. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again.
Time for a fresh perspective and time to inject a little innovation in our political calculation.