How Presidential Running Mates Influence Turnout: The Risks and Rewards of Revving up the Base

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American Politics | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Primaries frequently exacerbate ideological divisions within a party. When parties select more moderate candidates whom they believe will appeal to a broader audience, the nominee must find a way to win over their party’s base. We investigate the potential rewards of using the vice presidential nominee to increase voter turnout among those ideologically alienated by a party’s moderate nominee. We also examine the risks of a more extreme vice presidential nominee costing a president the support of moderate voters. To perform this analysis, we examine how voters’ ideologies and attitudes toward Sarah Palin affected their voter turnout and their vote choice. By doing this, we are able to assess the effectiveness of the attempt to activate the base and find that while vice presidential nominees may provide the opportunity to effectively target ideological groups, they may also contribute to a loss of support from moderately inclined voters.


DOI: 10.1177/1532673X14566069