The VP Card: Judging The Performance of Vice-Presidential Nominees

By Boris Heersink, Political ScienceIn this article I will argue that the best way to judge vice-presidential candidates is by comparing their actual campaign performance to the expectations of what their selections would achieve by those who selected them. By laying out these expectations, and how these expectations were formed, I argue that we will be able to truly understand what makes a vice-presidential candidate successful, as well as increase our understanding of what the job of running mate on a national ticket actually entails. Because, while the job of the presidential candidate is a clear-cut one (win a majority of the electoral votes), running mates have very different and specific jobs assigned to them. To explain this further, I will use the election of 2008 and the selection of Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden as the running mates to Senators John McCain and Barack Obama in the 2008 election as a test case.

Theories of Selection
In his article “Choosing the Vice-President,” Michael Nelson distinguishes two important historical divisions in the procedure that leads to a vice-presidential nomination. Firstly, there is the question of who is responsible for the selection. Nelson argues the historical development of this responsibility is divided around Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Before 1940, all vice-presidents were selected by the party conventions and candidates themselves had next to no influence in the selection. Nelson argues that 1940 ended this type of selection, with Roosevelt pushing Henry A. Wallace as his vice-presidential candidate to the objection of a majority of the delegates at the convention. With delegates threatening to vote Wallace down, Roosevelt announced he would not run for reelection without him, and the delegates caved in. Since that 1940 breakthrough, the selection of the vice-presidents has mostly been a prerogative of the presidential candidate, though the selection still needs to be confirmed by the convention delegates.1 Secondly, there is the question of what procedures take place before a selection is made. In this, the key moment of change was the selection of Thomas Eagleton by George McGovern in 1972, a short lived affair for shortly after the convention stories about Eagleton having received psychiatric help and shock therapy arose and McGovern dropped his VP pick from the ticket. The entire drama, combined with the subsequent scandals involving Nixon’s vice-president Spiro Agnew, meant that the selection process was a much more careful one from 1976 on and potential vice-presidents were vetted concerning anything that might cause difficulties during and after the campaign.2
What are the criteria for selection? In their article “The ‘Veepstakes’: Strategic Choice in Presidential Running Mate Selection” Lee Sigelman and Paul J. Wahlbeck suggest that the selection occurs largely with an eye on election rather than governing. In other words, politicians that would make excellent vice-presidents but poor vice-presidential candidates are generally not selected. This means that before any other selection criteria can be considered, a potential running mate must at the very least be expected not to cause any harm to the ticket. The second criterion is that the running mate in question is expected to bring some voters in that otherwise would not support the ticket. This should occur due to “ticket balancing,” which Sigelman and Wahlbeck suggest is one of the main selection criteria. Balancing mostly occurs on geographic background and demographics (age, religion), though another form is experience: with many modern presidential candidates running as Washington outsiders, and governors being particularly handy at winning their parties’ nominations, selecting vice-presidents with more Washington experience has become popular.3
An additional point on selection criteria is made by David Wade a member of the campaign staff that advised Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in 2004. Wade claimed that Kerry divided the possible candidates up by whether they were a “Mr. August”, a “Mr. October,” or a “Mr. January.”4 While, as argued by Sigelman and Wehlback, the “Mr. January” part tends to not be the greatest concern (and John Kerry’s choice of North Carolina Senator John Edwards certainly suggests it was not), it can be used as a form of presentation in the campaign itself. The distinction between an August and an October candidate is an interesting one too, with the August candidate intended to revitalize a struggling campaign while an October candidate would deliver more specific gains for a general election victory by delivering a certain block of voters (based on region, gender, religion, race, or ethnicity). Obviously, a perfect vice-presidential pick would be a good pick for all seasons, but, depending on the state of the campaign, a selection would be made in descending order of importance.5

Illinois Senator Barack Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination after a grueling, seemingly endless, primary battle with New York Senator Hillary Clinton on June 3, with Clinton ending her campaign, and endorsing Obama, on June 7. This left Obama just eleven weeks before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Denver to select his running mate. While the Obama campaign had been doing some pre-selection it tried to keep this as quiet as possible out of fear of coming across as coy. Quickly after securing the presidential nomination the process became a little more open when Obama assembled a vetting team which started its mission in early June by meeting with Congressional leaders to poll for their favorites.6 In early July the finalists, which aside from Biden, included Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, and, surprisingly enough, Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas, were informed by Obama in telephone conversations that they were in the final group and asked them for permission to begin the vetting process.7
This process was a careful one: Congressman Edwards described the process as “very intensive and intrusive.”8 Biden claims he was reluctant to allow Obama to vet him when asked but eventually told the campaign he would cooperate but could not guarantee he would actually accept the position if it was offered to him. On August 6, the Obama campaign “smuggled” Biden into a Minneapolis hotel room for a one-on-one meeting with Obama during which Biden was informed that the vetting had gone well and the two discussed what a Biden vice-presidency would look like. Interviews like this were also held with several other candidates including Richardson, before Obama made up his mind somewhere in the week of August 17 and informed Biden of his choice on Thursday before announcing it to the world on Friday evening.9
Obama’s selection was based on his concept of what his campaign was in need of, what the different candidates could add, but also on several external limitations he could not ignore. For starters, Obama had only barely won the presidential nomination and the tough primary campaign had left wounds on both sides of the Democratic Party. The most obvious way of healing this rift would have been to select Clinton as his running mate but Obama quickly decided against that. According to Newsweek’s account of the 2008 election Obama was not so much doubtful that Clinton would be an effective vice-president and a boost to the ticket but wondered whether the Clintons would hijack the campaign to set up Hillary for 2012. Obama also appeared hostile to the thought of having to deal with former President Bill Clinton both because of his public outbursts during the primaries as well as possible scandals involving Clinton’s finances and personal life.10
Not selecting Clinton had its price: for one thing, it made it nearly impossible for Obama to select another woman as his vice-president for Clinton’s (female) supporters would have felt that Obama thought he could win them by picking any woman. It also seems unlikely that Obama would have been able to select New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. While Richardson would have meant another first (the first Latino-American on a national ticket) and certainly would have helped in assuring the Latino vote, he also had alienated many in the Clinton camp when he endorsed Obama despite of his earlier warm, and career enhancing, relations with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
At the end of August Obama led John McCain by a small, but significant margin in most national polls. For all practical purposes this meant that a Mr. or Mrs. August was unnecessary. Indeed, a lack of excitement was the least of Obama’s concerns. Rather, there was the consistent question, fueled by the McCain campaign’s ‘Celebrity Ad’ of whether Obama had the experience and knowledge to go beyond giving beautiful speeches and actually lead the country. Particularly in the field of foreign affairs and homeland security the public remained doubtful Obama would be a good leader. While Obama’s talents were undeniable he had only been a senator for four years and was best known for his speeches and two memoirs rather than his policies. As previous candidates before him Obama’s vice-presidential pick would have to balance his inexperience out but with Obama running on the concept of “change” and railing against the Washington insiders picking a well-known typical Washingtonian would not do either.
Out of all those in Obama’s last list of possible vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden fit the profile created by the different external limitations and internal shortcomings best. His expertise on foreign policy, a topic on which he had specialized since the 1990s, was unrivaled within the Democratic Party. While he had served in the senate since 1974 his life story was such that the case could reasonably be made that he was not one of the Washington insiders American voters were rejecting in all opinion polls. While there were questions on whether Biden had the “discipline for the scrutiny of a general election”11, the pro’s outweighed the con’s. Obama needed someone to balance his inexperience and Biden provided a solution in two ways: firstly, his expertise on foreign affairs was unquestionable taking away at least some of the fears of voters and some of the possibilities for the McCain campaign to attack Obama on that front. Secondly, Biden functioned as a balance to Obama’s change in a more broader fashion, playing the role of the elder statesman advising the young leader and, to put it bluntly, adding some white and gray to the ticket. There were some additional hopes too: Biden’s religion could help bring in Catholic voters, and his roots as a kid in a working class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania could help secure that part of the state, which the McCain campaign insisted was a swing state, as well as blue collar workers in other parts of the North East.

Unlike the Obama campaign’s vetting process of which little was leaked but at least the existence of which was frequently reported on, Arizona Senator John McCain’s running mate selection process occurred mainly in the dark. This had partly to do with the fact that between McCain winning the Republican nomination in February and Obama finally securing the Democratic nomination in June, McCain failed to get much media attention with all eyes on the Democrats. But after the selection of Governor Sarah Palin and the subsequent corpses that came tumbling out of the Alaskan closet, McCain advisor Rick Davis shared some specifics on the selection process with The Washington Post: McCain’s selection team consisted of six members, including John and Cindy McCain, Davis, and Mark Salter. The process of creating a starting list of possible VPs had begun in spring and the entire selection process lasted until the week of the Democratic convention. Supposedly all final contenders were vetted.12
What was McCain basing his choice on? Of course, the McCain camp argued that he picked Palin solely because of “genuine attraction to Palin as a fellow reformer,”13 but McCain was facing limitations that were larger and more complicated than Obama’s and this greatly influenced McCain’s options. While Obama had to bring the supporters of Hillary Clinton to his side, there were few topics, aside from which of them should be the presidential nominee, on which he and Clinton had serious or unbridgeable differences. McCain on the other hand in many ways represented a figure the traditional Republican elite as well as socially conservative voters simply did not trust. This meant that those possible vice-presidential picks McCain would have been most comfortable with were off the table.
Several newspapers and magazines reported both during and after the campaign that McCain’s favorite pick had been Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut senator who became an independent after losing his Democratic primary nomination. However, in the weekend of August 16, the McCain camp was informed that Lieberman would be unacceptable to the religious right and that if he was selected they would sit out the election.14 Former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge, another McCain favorite, would have fit well with McCain’s strategy of attacking Obama on foreign affairs and terror and could have made Pennsylvania a serious swing state, but Ridge too was not a social conservative. This left McCain with two ‘regular’ candidates and one wild card on his shortlist. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Governor Mitt Romney were both choices John McCain would have been “comfortable”15 with but neither choice would bring either McCain or the voters much excitement.
This left the wild card. Sarah Palin had only been in office for two years but she fit nicely into the image of a maverick campaign as imagined by McCain and was everything the social conservatives were missing in McCain himself. As The New York Times described her, Palin sounds almost like a design of what a populist Republican social conservative looks like: “she had a reputation as a reformer in Alaska, she hunted and fished, and she had once belonged to a union. Just as crucial [she] was beloved by the party’s religious base, but did not come off as shrill.”16 Though Palin and McCain had met only once before, during a meeting of the National Governors Association in February 2008, and talked privately for only fifteen minutes, Palin had left a favorable impression on McCain. The long sitting senator from Arizona viewed the young, fresh, governor of Alaska as “a kindred spirit, someone who wasn’t afraid to take tough positions.”17
The choice of Palin was, for a large part, made possible and, in fact, almost made inevitable by the Obama campaign. Because McCain decided to wait for Obama’s announcement he had the luxury to pick someone who could play into any possible lines of attack Obama opened on himself by his choice. But, by the same token, Obama’s choice also made some of McCain’s options impossible: with Biden, Obama clearly went for an experienced hand who, whatever his downsides, was highly and widely respected for his work and knowledge in the field of foreign affairs. This meant that, should McCain go for someone who could be compared with Biden in the same category (older white men with Washington experience), he would have to find someone at least on the same level with Biden. With Ridge an impossibility there were no comparable options left. Palin, in that sense, fit both the options and the limitations created by Obama’s pick of Biden: by not picking Hillary Clinton, or indeed another female Democrat, the McCain campaign thought it had a shot of winning over female voters that had been hoping for a woman in the White House: while the second spot was of course not what female Clinton supporters had been hoping for initially, maybe it was enough incentive to bring them over.
Sarah Palin’s selection occurred because of several reasons, but clearly the main one was an attempt by McCain to end the domination of Obama in the campaign thus far. McCain had failed to play much of a role when the Obama-Clinton battle was still ongoing but even after the Democratic nomination had been decided Obama remained ahead of McCain in news coverage, including a world-tour in July which saw all major news anchors follow the Democratic presidential candidate to Iraq and Europe. The McCain camp had tried to attack Obama on his celebrity status with an ad that compared him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton but, while Obama’s campaign admitted the ad hurt them, the Democrat remained ahead of McCain in the polls. Picking an outsider would give McCain a chance to take back the initiative. Equally important, Palin, for being an unapologetic social conservative alone, could bring back the evangelical Christian voters, a sizable block that was fundamental in George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004. Also, Palin could bring female voters disenchanted with the victory of Obama over Clinton, to the Republican ticket. Finally, she could function as an attack dog, a position McCain had severe difficulties with throughout the primaries and the general election campaign.

The Campaign Post-Selection
Unsurprisingly, Joe Biden’s selection and subsequent acceptance speech did little to improve Obama’s poll numbers. Polls completed after Biden’s selection and convention speech showed that by far most voters were unmoved by the selection.18 Palin did equally little for McCain’s poll numbers in the days after being presented, but after an acceptance speech that was widely raved about and in which she attacked Obama more harshly than McCain had until then, the McCain-Palin ticket had overcome the lead of Obama-Biden. One of the vital gains made for the McCain ticket was a great rise in enthusiasm for the ticket amongst Republican voters: while only 39% of Republican voters described themselves “More Enthusiastic Than Usual About Voting” in a poll held over the period August 21-23 that number rose to 60% for a poll held over a September 5-7 period. The bounce was almost completely due to Palin.19 During the first days after the convention Palin’s star power became evident when the crowds that had failed to show up at McCain’s rallies swelled up to Obama-esque numbers for McCain-Palin rallies.
However, the Palin honeymoon proved to be short lived. Immediately after the selection, the media jumped on the new national face and quickly uncovered a slew of embarrassing stories. Many of the early stories involved personal issues and allowed for the McCain campaign to present Palin as a victim of the sexist, liberal, media. However, other stories were related to Palin’s governorship, including her flip-flopping on the Bridge to Nowhere and her attempts at having her former brother in law fired as a state trooper.20 To the frustration of liberals, the revelations appeared to do little harm to the McCain-Palin ticket, but Palin’s interviews with ABC’s Charlie Gibson and CBS’ Katie Couric, did, the most problematic interview being the Couric one, during which Palin appeared like a deer caught in headlines when giving confusing answers to relatively easy questions. The lowest point was her long and winding answer to a question about the possible Wall Street bailout, although Palin being unable to actually name the newspapers she read provided enough ammunition for her opponents too.21
While Palin was blundering on center stage, Joe Biden was so invisible the website Politico posted a story with the title “Where have you gone, Joe Biden?”22 The answer was that Biden was sent out to court white, working class voters in swing states like Pennsylvania and Virginia. But little of what Biden did on the road was covered beyond the local media: The New Yorker reported that Biden regularly traveled with only one single print reporter and that the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism referred to him as the “virtually forgotten candidate.”23 There were, unsurprisingly, some Biden gaffes, the one that received the most attention before the vice-presidential debate being Biden calling on a state senator to stand up and take a bow, unaware that the man was in a wheelchair. Overall, however, Biden remained in the shadows.
All this resulted in very high expectations for the vice-presidential debate of October 2: high in this sense meaning the expectation of a total bloodbath. On the one hand, due to her performance in the Couric interview, most pundits seemed to expect Palin to be unable to form even one coherent sentence. On the other hand, Biden, with his infamous verbosity, combined with his tendency to appear condescending to his opponents (which would open him up to charges of sexism), was expected by those same pundits to be a disaster as well. The debate itself proved a disappointment to those hoping for a meltdown of either: while Palin openly ignored many of the questions moderator Gwen Ifill asked, she managed to keep up her folksy persona (“Say it ain’t so, Joe”24). Biden, meanwhile, basically ignored Palin and focused all his attacks on McCain. Pundits considered the debate a draw but polls showed uncommitted voters gave the debate to Biden by a large margin (46% to 21% for Palin in a CBS poll25).
For a short while it appeared as though the vice-presidential candidates had played their part. Joe Biden managed to put his foot in his mouth once more when he told a crowd of Democratic donors that Obama would face a major international test within his first weeks in office, something which was not unthinkable but not something the Obama campaign wanted voters to be reminded of. However, Biden was overshadowed once again by his Republican counterpart, this time because of an internal turf war between the McCain and Palin camps. In the last week of October, Politico, based on sources inside the McCain campaign, reported that Palin had spent $150.000 of campaign money on clothing for herself and her family after her selection, something which Palin denied.26 Public disagreement between the two camps continued later on, particularly on a lack of direct attacks on Obama’s connections with former Weather Underground leader William Ayres and Obama’s former reverend Jeremiah Wright, with Palin in the last days of the campaign supposedly claiming she was going “rogue” and would from then on ignore the directions of the McCain campaign.
On election night, during the rally surrounding John McCain’s concession speech, Palin was not allowed to speak. She had written a speech and had asked if she could introduce McCain but campaign chairman Steve Schmidt had vetoed the request. While McCain spoke kindly of her (referring to her as “one of the best campaigners I have ever seen” and “an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength”27) and has continued to do so since, the entire image of the two couples together on stage seemed awkward. Over in Chicago, Barack Obama described his running mate in equally friendly, but generally more believable, terms as “the man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware.” Minutes later the president-elect was joined on stage by his vice-president elect while the tens-of-thousands of supporters that had gathered celebrated.28

After the election of Barack Obama, historian Julian E. Zelizer published an op-ed article in Newsweek about the McCain campaign effort under the title “Worst Campaign Ever?” Asking the question is answering it and, unsurprisingly, Zelizer concludes that “Team McCain ran a campaign that ranks on the bottom” of the list of failed presidential campaigns and “their first mistake was picking Gov. Sarah Palin.”29 Zelizer is, of course, right: Palin was in no shape or form ready to run on a national ticket, she had neither the experience to be vice-president, nor the political sensibility to successfully run for it and when she failed the hardest in her media appearances (particularly in the Couric interview) she did so on questions that were not particularly difficult. Palin clearly cost McCain votes, and even Palin’s role as attack dog proved to be working against the ticket with a CNN poll showing 60% of Americans believed the McCain-Palin attacks were unfair, while only 39% believed Obama was being negative about McCain. 30 In CNN’s exit poll of the 2008 election 71% of voters believed Joe Biden was qualified to be president if necessary but only 38% believed Palin was.31
It seems logical to conclude that Palin was a massive failure in her role of vice-presidential candidate and, to a certain extent, she was. But there is more to the story, namely those things Palin did do right. Palin’s main job upon selection was to excite the base and to shake up the race. Whatever her shortcoming later on there can be no doubt that she did both to a level that even the McCain campaign did not expect to be possible. In the days after Palin’s selection and convention speech, Obama had lost his lead in the polls and polls showed the McCain-Palin ticket ahead by four points or more. Large crowds came to the Palin rallies when only small and embarrassing numbers had shown up for McCain’s solo outings just weeks earlier and for the first time in 2008, after a lackluster primary and post-primary season, there was genuine excitement among Republicans for the ticket. Securing the evangelical vote, as well as that of other social conservative Christians that had come out for George W. Bush in 2004 was Palin’s second job and again she succeeded. While the number of evangelicals supporting McCain was slightly lower than had supported Bush in 2004 (74% to 78%), the amount of evangelical voters itself had increased (according to the CNN Exit poll 26% of voters described themselves as born again Christians, compared to 23% in 2004).32
But while Palin was highly successful in bringing the traditional Republican base out, she was also highly successful in alienating those who were not part of that base. A large part of the problem was Palin, but an even larger part was McCain. VP-candidates that were considered unqualified or responsible for unfair attacks have been on winning tickets before, largely because they were used in a more effective way than Palin was and because they were on a ticket with presidential candidates who could effectively separate themselves from their running mates. The reason the choice of Palin alienated many voters was because it was just one step in a continuation of poor and odd choices by McCain. It was around the same time of Palin crashing during her Couric interview that McCain dramatically announced he would quit his presidential campaign and threatened to cancel the first presidential debate on account of the economic collapse. The image that came out of these continuous events was that the McCain-Palin ticket was clueless, not only to what should be done, but even to what was going on in the first place. While Palin’s attacks on Obama for palling around with terrorists worked with the Republican base, it was not likely to win over the larger population and it was McCain’s job to balance Palin’s pit-bull act with a more moderate and less populist approach, something which he failed to do.
Joe Biden, to a large extent had a lot less to do to be a success. I have argued that the most important reason Obama selected Biden was to add his foreign policy experience and ‘gravitas’ to the Obama ticket. This meant that, aside from actually saying yes to Obama’s request, there was little else that Biden needed to do to fulfill these expectations. Whether he had any impact is difficult to measure: while voters came out for Obama in much greater numbers in all the categories that Biden was expected to help than had come out for Kerry in 2004, including higher Democratic support among Catholics, North-Easterners, and low income voters, it is tough to say whether Biden had any direct influence on this.33 So, Biden’s job was to a large extent simply being present and not creating difficult situations for Obama. Both he succeeded in doing, but in the latter category he was much helped by the Sarah Palin gaffe extravaganza.
McCain was unable to select those people he wanted as his vice-president. Lieberman and, to a lesser extent, Ridge, were not possible and Romney and Pawlenty were too predictable to McCain. With Obama’s choice of Biden, McCain was both liberated and forced to pick (someone like) Palin. Palin’s main job was to add excitement to the race, as well as bring back the social conservatives to the McCain ticket, and act as an attack dog towards Obama. All of which she did, and all of which she did well, but sadly for McCain she did a whole lot of other things too. But it could be argued that this doesn’t so much make Palin a bad vice-presidential candidate as it made McCain a bad presidential one: he got everything out of his VP choice he could possibly hope, but failed to play the role that balanced out those aspects of Palin’s performance that turned off voters in the middle.
Where does this approach to judging the quality of vice-presidential candidates leave us? What greater meaning does it have for our judgment of the role of vice-presidential candidate in presidential campaigns? I argue this approach will have three positive effects. Firstly, it will make our understanding of what it is a vice-presidential candidate actually does more clear. So far, when judging the performance of a running mate we tended to use the same characteristics we use to judge any other politician. This represents a severe misunderstanding of the job itself. In the American political system, to be an elected official requires to personally win over, if not a majority of the total vote, then at least the largest block of voters in the election. As such, the presidential candidate’s job (or at least a presidential candidate of the Democratic or Republican persuasion) is to win enough (electoral) votes to win the election. A vice-presidential candidate’s job is completely different and, as we saw by trying to distinguish the specific reasons behind the selection of Biden and Palin, there is no set description of what it is.
Secondly, this approach will increase our focus on the actual selection procedure and the reasons behind the selection. This is important exactly because there is no standard specification of what a vice-presidential candidate is expected to do, an understanding that is lacking from the literature on vice-presidential selection that is currently available. While that literature does a decent job at specifying what types of candidates are considered, it does not explain why the selections themselves are made. The answer to that question lies with the limitations each presidential candidate faces – limitations that are internal (certain weak spots in their own image) and external (outside influences, such as actions taken by the opponent). Understanding what these limitations are at the time of the selection decision is necessary to understand what it is each specific running mate is expected to do. The focus on the specific situations, rather than a generalization of vice-presidential selections throughout the years, is vital here because each vice-presidential candidate’s specific task in the election is represented in the reason for his or her selection.
Thirdly, this approach will make it possible to judge the quality of the performance of vice-presidential candidates more fairly. Unlike the current ‘system’ in which we base our judgment on a general understanding of what a successful political performance during a campaign is we will now be able to judge vice-presidential candidates particularly on what it is they are expected to do. This will also make it possible to fairly compare different vice-presidential candidates, not through some artificially created model of what a good running mate looks like, but in a realistic approach in which we focus primarily on what it is the vice-presidential candidate is expected to deliver.

Nelson, “Choosing the Vice President” 861-862.

Nelson, 862-864.

Lee Sigelman and Paul J. Wahlbeck, “The ‘Veepstakes’: Strategic Choice in Presidential Running Mate Selection” in American Political Science Review, Vol. 91 No. 4 (1997) 855-857.

Ryan Lizza, “Biden’s Brief. Obama Picked His Running Mate To Help Him Govern” in The New Yorker (October 20, 2008), available online at, accessed October 23, 2009.

Lizza, “Biden’s Brief”.

“Obama VP vetting team to hit the Hill”, First Read Blog (6 June 2008), available online at, accessed December 19, 2008.

“Edwards Kept Vetting A Secret For Months” Houston Chronicle (August 23, 2008). “Obama’s Quest to find a Running Mate Sends His Researchers on the Road” The New York Times (July 30, 2008).

“Edwards Kept Vetting A Secret For Months”, Houston Chronicle.

Lizza, “Biden’s Brief”. “In Obama’s Choice, a ‘Very Personal Decision’”, The New York Times (August 24, 2008).

Evan Thomas, “Center Stage”, Newsweek (November 17, 2008) available online at, accessed December 26, 2009.

“Obama’s Quest to Find a Running Mate”, The New York Times.

“Palin Made an Impression From the Start”, The Washington Post (August 31, 2008).


“Conservative Ire Pushed McCain From Lieberman”, The New York Times (August 31, 2008).


“Conservative Ire”, The New York Times.

“Palin Made an Impression From the Start”, The Washington Post.

“New Date: Impact of Biden” (August 23, 2008), available online at, accessed January 21, 2009.

“Republicans’ Enthusiasm Jumps After Convention” Gallup Polls (September 8, 2008), available online at, accessed October 13, 2009.

“What McCain Didn’t Know About Sarah Palin”, The Atlantic (August 31, 2008).

“One on One With Sarah Palin”, CBS News (September 24, 2008), available online at

“Where Have You Gone Joe Biden?” Politico (November 3, 2008), available online at

Lizza, “Biden’s Brief”.

“Transcript 2008 Vice-Presidential Debate” The New York Times (October 2 2008), available online at

“CBS Poll: More Uncommitted Voters Saw Biden As Winner”, CBS News (October 2, 2008), available online at

“RNC Shells Out $150K for Palin Fashion”, Politico (October 22, 2008) available online at

“John McCain’s Concession Speech” The New York Times (November 4, 2008) available online at

“Barack Obama’s Victory Speech” The Guardian (November 4, 2008) available online at

Julian E. Zelizer, “Worst Campaign Ever?” Newsweek (November 5, 2008).

“Most Believe McCain’s Attacks on Obama Unfair, Poll Finds” (October 20, 2008) available online at

“CNN Exit Poll 2008” (November 4 2008), available online at “CNN Exit Poll 2004” (November 2, 2004), available online at

“CNN Exit Poll 2008”, “CNN Exit Poll 2004”.

“CNN Exit Poll 2008”, “CNN Exit Poll 2004”.