I don’t have a figurative dark horse to suggest. The four–or now five, with the addition of the Michigan governor–names being bandied about seem likely to include among them the eventual Democrat vice presidential nominee. Picking an unknown quantity is an unnecessary risk for the Biden campaign. Voters are wondering if Joe will still be holding his marbles in a year. This VP spot matters more than usual.
Kamala Harris is in Silicon Valley’s pocket. Politically she is an empty vessel who will do whatever the DNC tells her to. She is the exotic diversity affluent white female liberals love, and AWFLs are a demographic Biden needs. Downsides include hailing from an electorally uncompetitive state. Being an empty vessel is a double-edged sword in an age of discontentment. She pretends to burn with righteous anger, but it’s an easy act to see through:
Elizabeth Warren has the plurality of support among Democrat primary voters as the preferred vice presidential nominee. She is an acceptable sop to many disappointed Bernie backers. Downsides are the party doesn’t trust her as much as they trust the other contenders and she also comes from an uncompetitive state. If the VP slot is a proxy of the power of progressivism in the Democrat party, a Biden/Warren ticket shows it’s a junior partner, but a partner nonetheless.
Amy Klobuchar is a popular senator who has outperformed national Democrats when she’s been down ballot. While Harris and Warren speak in scolds, Klobuchar has a pleasant air of motherliness about her. They say she throws staplers at staffers, but it’s easier to imagine her baking cookies for them. Unlike California and Massachusetts, securing Minnesota is worth something. Downsides are she never polled well nationally, lacks big institutional support, and progressives dislike her. If Warren in the VP slot is progressivism’s strongest signal, Klobuchar is its weakest.
Stacey Abrams understands electoral politics at a tactical level. She’s not just a politician, she’s a political strategist and she’s an effective one. She is brimming with ambitious zeal and zealous ambition. As she explained in her response to President Trump’s 2019 SOTU, like the kid in 1984 she wants dad ratted out to the authorities if he says something uncouth in the faux privacy of his own home:
We must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds – and call racism what it is.
She’s from Georgia, a state that will be more competitive than people expect. Downsides include not being photogenic and electoral redundancy on account of appealing most strongly to blacks, a demographic Biden already has locked down.
I won’t pretend to know much about the Michigan governor.
If pressed, I’d put the odds at something like:
Harris — 30%
Klobuchar — 25%
Warren — 20%
Abrams — 15%
Governor Whitmer or someone else — 10%
Yeah, we’re predicting a 40% chance of rain tomorrow. Called it no matter what happens. Go ahead and give a bolder take then, wiseguy!