(Un)Conventional Wisdom and Presidential Politics: The Myth of Convention Locations and Favorite-Son Vice Presidents

David Schultzby David Schultz (Hamline University)

Conventional wisdom and “old politicians’ tales” pervade  presidential politics, even in 2016.  Among widely held  tales by politicians and the media are two beliefs.  First, that a political party’s placement of a national convention in swing states such as Ohio for the Republicans or  Pennsylvania for the Democrats this year can affect presidential voting there, flipping it to its presidential candidate or ensuring that it will be held by them. Second, that the selection of a vice-presidential candidate from a specific state as a favorite son (or daughter) will deliver its electoral votes to its presidential candidate.  Are either of these bits of wisdom true?   Examining  presidential elections back to 1948, this article tests the truth of both the convention location and favorite son claims, finding that neither of them  is correct.  In many cases a political party is just as likely to lose a state where it held a convention or picked a vice-presidential candidate from it than win it.  Thus, despite all the strategy and speculation, the importance of convention locations and vice-presidential picks is vastly overblown if not false.

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PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 49 / Issue 03 / July 2016, pp 420-425 / Copyright © American Political Science Association 2016