US presidential elections where the VP pick might have very well made the difference between victory and defeat

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,722
Iowa USA
#21
I think that The Duke picked Bentsen because he was hoping to win more support in the South. People often forget this, but Dukakis was actually leading in the polls until the fall of 1988, when Bush Sr. took the lead:

Historical polling for United States presidential elections - Wikipedia

I personally made the Wikipedia article above, FTR. Specifically, more than five years ago.
Well, that was a "notorious" election for TV ads. The Bushes always hit hard on TV, though the father's reputation was less affected by the use of the harsh tactics than was the son's.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,722
Iowa USA
#22
The Duke looked like he could win coming out of the Dem convention.

Reagan we now know to have been in declining health, yet I think his endorsement of Poppy Bush was weaker than most had expected.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,885
Connecticut
#24
Well the VP slot didn't matter for vast swaths of US history so this is tough. In 88 Bentsen might have been a poor choice but so was Quayle and I can't see that VP debate having done anything but improve Dukakis's chances of victory. Race wasn't close enough where a VP made the difference.

But in terms of elections the VP was considered considerably less important than they are today and it was very rare for a noteworthy politician to end up becoming VP. First time you really see the VP slot given importance(besides the racist takedown of Richard Johnson in the 1800s ) is in 1944 and that is because it was common knowledge FDR would not survive his term and the VP was basically being elected President. Before that though the fact TR's ENEMIES were the biggest advocates for his Vice Presidency says it all. Important to remember in an era where parties weren't ideologically homogeneous a VP was often going to be the opposite of the thing you were voting for at the top of the ticket, different than today where one party is left of a certain point, and another right of a certain point. That distinction is necessary to understand why VP's were relevant.

The VP slot only started being used as a tool with noteworthy pols in the mid 20th century. First time I recall a VP being used in the modern context to swing a state was in 1960 where LBJ was used for Texas. It worked but Texas didn't swing the election, though JFK would have only won by a handful of electoral votes if Nixon had carried Texas. Also RFK HATED LBJ and you can kind of see the TR motive working there.

The Tyler and Fillmore picks certainly contributed to the legislative defeat of the Whig party even if they were victorious, before TR, VP's coming in and taking a 180 degree turn if they became President was a common trope in US history. Tyler, Fillmore, Johnson,.Arthur it just kept happening over and over again.

In 1800 the fact Burr was the Republican party's de facto VP candidate was what allowed Jefferson to be elected over him(cause Burr was a hated more than Jefferson) when the votes were tied, another VP alternative might have been able to usurp Jefferson. That doesn't really count cause he wasn't "selected" but is an interesting soundbite.

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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,722
Iowa USA
#25
Reagan did campaign with Poppy, didn't he?
After Labor Day I didn't follow the news that closely, so I can't be too specific on this.

Reagan gave a long speech to the GOP convention and was loyal to Bush in his convention speech. However, Bush's people were well organized, ran a more efficient campaign than Dukakis. Employment was strong, though in '80s there was a big loss of union jobs already. Bush ended up carrying most of the midwest, and I think even won Illinois. Dukakis carried Iowa, however!
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,745
SoCal
#26
Well the VP slot didn't matter for vast swaths of US history so this is tough. In 88 Bentsen might have been a poor choice but so was Quayle and I can't see that VP debate having done anything but improve Dukakis's chances of victory. Race wasn't close enough where a VP made the difference.

But in terms of elections the VP was considered considerably less important than they are today and it was very rare for a noteworthy politician to end up becoming VP. First time you really see the VP slot given importance(besides the racist takedown of Richard Johnson in the 1800s ) is in 1944 and that is because it was common knowledge FDR would not survive his term and the VP was basically being elected President. Before that though the fact TR's ENEMIES were the biggest advocates for his Vice Presidency says it all. Important to remember in an era where parties weren't ideologically homogeneous a VP was often going to be the opposite of the thing you were voting for at the top of the ticket, different than today where one party is left of a certain point, and another right of a certain point. That distinction is necessary to understand why VP's were relevant.

The VP slot only started being used as a tool with noteworthy pols in the mid 20th century. First time I recall a VP being used in the modern context to swing a state was in 1960 where LBJ was used for Texas. It worked but Texas didn't swing the election, though JFK would have only won by a handful of electoral votes if Nixon had carried Texas. Also RFK HATED LBJ and you can kind of see the TR motive working there.

The Tyler and Fillmore picks certainly contributed to the legislative defeat of the Whig party even if they were victorious, before TR, VP's coming in and taking a 180 degree turn if they became President was a common trope in US history. Tyler, Fillmore, Johnson,.Arthur it just kept happening over and over again.

In 1800 the fact Burr was the Republican party's de facto VP candidate was what allowed Jefferson to be elected over him(cause Burr was a hated more than Jefferson) when the votes were tied, another VP alternative might have been able to usurp Jefferson. That doesn't really count cause he wasn't "selected" but is an interesting soundbite.

.
It's worth noting, though, that even when VPs were virtually powerless, they could still be important for electoral reasons. For instance, most GOP presidential tickets between 1876 and 1908 had a New Yorker on the ticket due to New York's crucial importance. For that matter, the Democrats likewise had a New Yorker on their presidential ticket five times between 1876 and 1908.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,745
SoCal
#27
After Labor Day I didn't follow the news that closely, so I can't be too specific on this.

Reagan gave a long speech to the GOP convention and was loyal to Bush in his convention speech. However, Bush's people were well organized, ran a more efficient campaign than Dukakis. Employment was strong, though in '80s there was a big loss of union jobs already. Bush ended up carrying most of the midwest, and I think even won Illinois. Dukakis carried Iowa, however!
Yep:



Dukakis was able to finish strong by carrying West Virginia! ;)
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,745
SoCal
#28
BTW, in regards to the 1916 election, might Hughes have won had he picked Hiram Johnson as his VP and Johnson would have actually accepted? Johnson was a Progressive and a Teddy Roosevelt supporter and thus might have helped Hughes in both California (Johnson's home state, where he was Governor) and Minnesota--both of which TR carried in 1912. Winning California would have been crucial for Hughes and so would have been holding Minnesota. (In real life, Hughes narrowly lost California and was very narrowly able to avoid losing in Minnesota.)

Thoughts on this?
 
Jun 2017
2,885
Connecticut
#29
It's worth noting, though, that even when VPs were virtually powerless, they could still be important for electoral reasons. For instance, most GOP presidential tickets between 1876 and 1908 had a New Yorker on the ticket due to New York's crucial importance. For that matter, the Democrats likewise had a New Yorker on their presidential ticket five times between 1876 and 1908.
You know what you have a point. Not sure if that was the intent, even Presidential from New York didn't swing NY more than a few points if it did, but VP's from New York tended to carry the state(and in 1876 a case where it didn't, the opponent was a New Yorker). But I know Arthur's main reason was to appease the Stalwart faction whose leader was a Senator in NY(Conkling), not sure if the purpose was to pick up NY itself(though they did). It does appear though Blaine's New Yorkless ticket would have won NY if not for the "Rome, Romanism and Rebellion" incident and seeing how Harrison beat Cleveland in 1888(Harrison had a VP from New York but Cleveland was from NY himself) think Repubs might have had a little advantage in the 1880s. In 1892 Cleveland won New York but it must be noted that this was the biggest third party election in a while at the time and the Populists at least would be taking votes away from Harrison(Cleveland was a Gold Bug). Cleveland won New York with a share of the vote which might not have been enough in other years.

And good point about Hiram Johnson forgot about 1916 being a close one, only close US election for over 50 years.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,745
SoCal
#30
You know what you have a point. Not sure if that was the intent, even Presidential from New York didn't swing NY more than a few points if it did, but VP's from New York tended to carry the state(and in 1876 a case where it didn't, the opponent was a New Yorker). But I know Arthur's main reason was to appease the Stalwart faction whose leader was a Senator in NY(Conkling), not sure if the purpose was to pick up NY itself(though they did). It does appear though Blaine's New Yorkless ticket would have won NY if not for the "Rome, Romanism and Rebellion" incident and seeing how Harrison beat Cleveland in 1888(Harrison had a VP from New York but Cleveland was from NY himself) think Repubs might have had a little advantage in the 1880s. In 1892 Cleveland won New York but it most be noted that this was the biggest third party election in a while at the time and the Populists at least would be taking votes away from Harrison(Cleveland was a Gold Bug). Cleveland won New York with a share of the vote which might not have been enough in other years.
Generally New Yorkers liked voting for their own people:

1876: Both presidential tickets had a New Yorker.
1880: The GOP prez ticket had a New Yorker and won.
1884: The Dem prez ticket had a New Yorker and won.
1888: Both presidential tickets had a New Yorker.
1892: Both presidential tickets had a New Yorker. (I checked and Harrison's 1892 VP choice Whitelaw Reid also appears to have been from New York; what threw me off is that he was born in and spent his early life in Ohio.
1896: No presidential ticket had a New Yorker--though the winning 1896 GOP ticket came close by having a New Jerseyite in the VP slot.
1900: The GOP prez ticket had a New Yorker and won.
1904: Both presidential tickets had a New Yorker.
1908: The GOP prez ticket had a New Yorker and won.

IMHO, given Blaine's extremely narrow margin of defeat in NY in 1884, even with that 3-R's gaffe, Blaine would have probably still won NY had he actually had a New Yorker on his ticket.

As for 1892, please keep in mind that the Dems won the NY's governor and lieutenant governor jobs just a year earlier--specifically in 1891. So, it wouldn't have been impossible for Cleveland to win NY in 1892 even without the Populists. Please keep in mind that 1890 resulted in a huge Democratic landslide in the US Congress.

As for Chet Arthur, I think that he was picked both to appease the Stalwarts and to carry NY. Likewise, I suspect that Levi Morton was picked in 1888 to likewise carry New York for the GOP ticket that year. Ditto for Whiteland Reid in 1892--though that GOP ticket failed to actually win.

And good point about Hiram Johnson forgot about 1916 being a close one, only close US election for over 50 years.
Barely--1896 and 1948 were both close and were 52 years apart.
 

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