Requiem for a Lightweight: Vice Presidential Candidate Evaluations and the Presidential Vote



    1. Assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has recently published in the Journal of Politics and the Political Research Quarterly.
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  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to thank Joe Snipp for his thoughts and the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions. Any inquiries may be directed to the author at


Presidential election scholars have recently begun to explore whether vice presidential nominees have a meaningful influence on the presidential vote. Their findings are in conflict. Aggregate-level analyses find little support for the hypothesis that vice presidential candidates bring their ticket any regional or home state advantage. Individual-level analyses, on the other hand, find that vice presidential nominees have a surprisingly powerful influence on the typical voter's vote for president. These conflicting findings suggest that either aggregate-level results underestimate vice presidential nominees' influence on the vote or that individual-level results overestimate vice presidential nominees' influence on the vote. The author assumes it is the latter. Based on this assumption, the author reexamines whether vice presidential candidates influence the individual vote for president. Once rationalization affects are controlled, it is found that vice presidential candidates have no influence on the voters' choice for president.