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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Do the Vice Presidents really matter?

    Now that both political parties’ conventions have come to a close, voters are left pondering the choices their Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have made.

    With the primary election ending over two months ago, rumors have been the rage, as political commentators and news stations reported with insider tips on who would be chosen as each candidate’s running mate.

    Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden, a U.S. senator from Delaware, came only a few days before his Republican counterpart John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska.

    As some voters shifted nervously in their seats, awaiting to see who each candidate would choose, others were convinced the decision would be far from exciting. The question was on many people’s minds: Does anybody care about the vice president?

    “”The general assumption is that vice presidential nominations don’t have much impact for anybody,”” said Barbara Norrander, a political science professor.

    As a general rule, most people probably do not care much about the running mate selection, because it is not characteristic of them to be interested in who comes second best, said Mary Abramson, a pre-business freshman.

    “”Normally, people don’t care about second,”” she said. “”They only care about first in the world.””

    Naturally, vice presidents don’t get the same scrutiny presidential nominees do, but this election already has seemed to focus on them, said Juan Garcia, a political science professor.

    “”Generally, most people argue that in most cases (running mates are) not a major factor, but with this last time picking, with McCain’s selection – in this first week or so of that announcement, it got a lot of press,”” Garcia said. “”There’s evidence that when people make a decision about who they’re going to vote for, the vice president is not a major consideration. But that’s not to say that it’s not going to make a difference for anybody, but it’s just a general rule of thumb.””

    Voters across party lines have said that although vice presidential candidates at times have little or no effect on elections, both choices may have been unusually important this time around.

    Kara Subach, a political science senior and historian for the College Republicans, said this election would be significant, because it is historically different that any other.

    “”I think we’re at a breaking point right now; a lot of people are excited. There’s an African Democrat, and now we have a female vice president on the Republican side,”” Subach said. “”This has allowed more students to vote because of the diversity of the candidates, and it gets them voting – and gets them going.””

    Others found that because of the nature of the election, some decisions were made tactfully.

    Samantha Porter, a women’s studies junior, said she thought McCain’s choice was made as a direct effect of decisions throughout the primaries.

    “”Frankly, I think Sarah Palin is inexperienced and just unfit to be president if anything should happen to John McCain, and I think he picked her as a ploy to get votes from women that were previously going to vote for (Sen. Hillary Clinton),”” Porter said. “”I think that’s probably going to work out unsuccessfully for him, because Palin and Clinton are polar opposites, basically – just their views.””

    Guillermo Lechuga, a Mexican-American studies senior, said that Obama’s choice surprised him.

    “”I really thought Obama was gonna go with another minority like Bill Richardson or something, so he could play the whole minority card,”” Lechuga said.

    Lechuga said he thought some voters automatically assume Obama will get ahead because of the minority vote, but said only about 30 percent of the population makes up that demographic and may therefore prove to be less significant.

    Garcia said he felt this election may prove to be very different and may have all students getting more interested in the different candidates across the political spectrum.

    “”It’s getting more attention this time around – now there’s expectations,”” Garcia said. “”There’s evidence from the primary that there is a lot more enthusiasm among young persons about this round of presidential elections.””

    Lechuga said he thought the choices for president and vice president have been important to himself, as well as others, for the upcoming November election.

    “”We live in a totally different world now from what it was 50 years ago, and if it does come down to a situation where a president does have to step down if they do get assassinated, then we have to have somebody that’s capable to take over the country and take charge,”” Lechuga said. “”The world we live in is a horrible world, and we need to have trust in somebody that’s gonna be able to take the reins of the country.””

    Porter said she believes that the younger generations are starting to involve themselves more politically overall, and it may be a reason people have an opinion of who is running for vice president.

    “”I feel like our country has been so royally screwed over, and I think students and young people have kind of broken free of their apathy and are starting to really care about what happens in this country,”” Porter said.

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