Last Thursday, The Washington Post was mocked for writing an article with the headline “The Power Of Stacey Abrams.” Obviously, Abrams is a front runner for Joe Biden’s running mate, and as such the progressive media is trying to get us all to love her ahead of time so we remember her — unlike Senator Kaine.
However, many of the right are convinced that Biden picking Abrams would result it a loss. As Pradheep Shanker put it on Twitter:
She is literally the Sarah Palin of the modern Democratic Party.
This is a theme this man has repeated, in April he quote tweeted an article in which Abrams said she would be a good running mate with the comment:
If Biden picks her, he deserves to lose. She is every bit as bad as Palin.
However, even if this is true, it’s not as important as most people think. Sara Palin was not the reason John McCain lost in 2008 — John McCain lost because he was the Republican nomination in 2008. With how hated George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were by the end of their administration, at one point they had an approval rating lower than Nixon did during Watergate, it doesn’t matter if McCain picked the perfect running mate, or if Republicans put up the perfect nomination, outside of divine intervention the Democrat would have won.
Most Americans do not even know who the vice-president, let alone the running mate, is. Ever since political comedy started on television it was a habit during the end of Presidential administrations to ask who the vice President for the past four or eight years was. Most people couldn’t tell you, even when the outgoing Vice President was George H.W. Bush, who was moving up from Ronald Reagan’s Vice President to President of the United States. Or when the outgoing Vice President was Al Gore, who almost fifty-one million of them had voted for.
For that matter, America has had dumb Vice Presidents before. The aforementioned George Bush Sr. picked a fellow named Dan Quayle as his running mate back in 1988. Quayle was just as gaffe prone as Sarah Palin was, but he managed to spend four years as Vice President. Many of these same people think Joe Biden is an idiot, yet he also manged to spend eight years as Vice President.
Palin was picked to counter accusations that John McCain was “too liberal.” An attack launched by him both by his 2008 primary opponents and by the George W. Bush campaign during the 2000 primary. This criticism was made primarily by hardcore Republicans who still defended George W. Bush. Had McCain not tried to appeal to them, he would have not only lost the primary but also not been able to get Republican votes in the general. However, if he picked someone closer to George W. Bush — himself quite gaffe prone — that would have alienated basically everyone else.
So is Abrams a good pick for Biden? Possibly, in fact, I could even see her helping him win the election.
One of the main points of picking a running mate during the campaign, as oppose to appointing them during the administration, is so the running mate can help the candidate pick up voters they are weak with.
From this perspective, Palin was a horrible choice. Since Alaska became a state in 1959 the only Democrat they have voted for was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
However, Georgia not only is one of the few states that went for Goldwater in 1964, but since then they have only voted for one Democrat — Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, who they also supported during his re-election campaign in 1980. This is a state that is so conservative the last Republican they didn’t vote for was Richard Nixon in 1968 — because they instead went for Alabama Governor George Wallace.
While some may respond by saying Abrams lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018, which is still debatable, by the way, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t successful compared to other Democrats. No Democrat had won the Georgia gubernatorial election since 1998 — even losing by a couple thousand votes is more than anyone in Georgia politics can say.
Regardless of what you think of Stacey Abrams, comparing her to Sarah Palin from this standpoint is politically illiterate. Hillary Clinton used Tim Kaine in 2016 to tip Virginia in her favor, as did Donald Trump to push the right-leaning swing state Indiana to his side.
Will it make victory a sure thing? Far from it. However, it does mean that picking Abrams is a better choice than some on the right seem to think.