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Christopher Devine book cover, What's wrong with the 'veepstakes?

What's wrong with ‘Veepstakes'

It's a media obsession: the rampant speculation about presidential running mates. In his new book, political scientist Christopher Devine explains how all too often news coverage of this important event does the public a disservice.

"News media extensively — critics would say, disproportionately — cover the VP selection process, and talk is often about whether a candidate can win their home state or mobilize a bloc of voters," says Devine, associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton and author of News Media Coverage of the Vice-Presidential Selection Process: What's Wrong with the ‘Veepstakes’?

"We should be skeptical, if not scornful, of how some turn this important decision into a game, because news stories influence how voters evaluate the eventual nominees," he said.

Devine — while analyzing coverage of the 2000 to 2020 elections — found journalists focus too much on electoral strategizing and too little on evaluating the running mate's potential to help govern once in office; including their political experience, expertise in foreign affairs or other important policy areas.

"Profiles are more likely to discuss the candidates' physical appearance than whether they are qualified to serve as (vice) president," he said.

It matters not only because running mates influence how people vote, he writes, but because vice presidents have gained more power since the 1960s. And today, picking a vice president is known as the "first presidential act" of a prospective commander-in-chief.

"Media coverage of the vice-presidential selection process is a serious matter, which must be handled more responsibly than it has been in recent years," Devine said. "News media play a vital role by helping to vet potential running mates. They can draw voters' attention to favorable or unfavorable aspects of their governing credentials and signal to them what matters most.

"By and large, veepstakes media coverage deserves its poor reputation as little more than a parlor game. Too bad; it should be so much more than that."

For interviews, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at, or Devine at or 413-454-2047.


News and Communications Staff