“Can We Get the Catholic Vote?” the Effects of Catholic Running Mates in Presidential Elections
Ted G. Jelen examines the historical record and finds little evidence that a Catholic on the ticket delivers enough Catholic votes to make any difference. Indeed, the latest example is 2016 with vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (VA) apparently unable to help the Democratic national ticket with Catholic voters. Indeed, Catholic vice presidential nominees on losing tickets occurred in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1984. The counter-examples are 2008 and 2012, with the Catholic Joe Biden as the vice presidential nominee in winning campaigns. Little evidence exists that Catholic identity had much or anything to do with these vice presidential selections, or that it had any major impact on voting by Catholics. At most, the data show that having a Catholic on the Democratic ticket somewhat reduces the propensity of Catholics to vote Republican.