One of the persistent ideas regarding vice presidential selection holds that presidential nominees seek running mates from large, competitive states. Guided by that assumption, the Great Mentioners invariably include many politicians from such states on the lists of prospective vice presidential candidates that they compose every four years. The premise seems to be that a running mate can minimally, at best, affect the national election returns but that a popular favorite son or daughter may help swing an important electoral block. This conventional wisdom regarding vice presidential selection practice encounters one significant problem: It’s wrong.
It simply does not reflect the behavior of recent presidential candidates. Presidential nominees presumably know something about electoral politics and are strongly motivated to make politically rewarding choices. Yet in modern times they almost never choose a running mate based on the assumption that he or she can swing a state with a lot of electoral votes. The running mate often comes from a state with few electoral votes and/or a safe state and, when he or she has recently come from a state rich in electoral votes, that fact has played little, if any, role in the selection.