How Do Protest And Civil Unrest Affect Elizabeth Warren’s VP Odds?

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As protests gather around the country in response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, former Vice President Joe Biden has a choice to make.

The presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee has not named his vice-presidential candidate yet. At some point in the next two months, he is bound to make that decision. When he does, how much impact will the ongoing civil unrest, protests, and riots have on it?

A lot, political scientists tell New Boston Post.

A few of the candidates on Biden’s short list include Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and U.S. Representative Val Demings of Florida, among others. All are women, because Biden has pledged to name a woman.

Three of those four have a background in law enforcement. (Warren is the exception.)

Klobuchar, before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, served eight years as county attorney (meaning the elected chief prosecutor) of Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis. During that time, she did not prosecute Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd, according to KUTV, despite at least 10 conduct complaints being filed against him in his 19 years as a police officer.

Harris previously served as California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017 and as San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011. As a DA, she prosecuted people for marijuana possession and implemented a policy that arrested parents for school truancy, according to Vox.

And Demings’s experience before running for office? She was the chief of the Orlando Police Department from 2007 to 2011.

Law enforcement is a traditionally a strong platform to use for a run for elective office. Some future politicians go to law school and apply for prosecuting jobs to build a resume to run on.

But is it a plus for Democrats at the current moment?

And if Biden eliminates law enforcement candidates from his pool of female candidates, will he therefore pick Warren?

Political scientists say don’t count on it.

New England College political scientist Wayne Lesperance told New Boston Post that he expects Floyd’s death will lead to a realignment in public thought — and Biden will have to adapt to it.

“It will be very difficult for Biden not to embrace the Black Lives Matter movement and their agenda for social justice and racial equality,” Lesperance said in an email message. “An early test for Biden will be who he selects for Vice President. It is impossible to imagine him not selecting a woman of color. Such a historical move would serve as an indicator he is serious about addressing the current challenges we face as a nation. “

Iowa State University political scientist Mack Shelley expressed a similar sentiment. He told New Boston Post that Klobuchar is “almost certainly out of the running,” but is not ready to count Harris and Demings out because they would bring racial diversity to Biden’s ticket. 

“The current national mood opposing police brutality and a judicial system that disproportionately punishes people of color makes it much less likely that Elizabeth Warren could be his vice-presidential selection despite polling showing her as his strongest option,” Shelley wrote in an email message. “Although Warren is on the progressive side of these and most other key issues, with racial as a central concern now it is much more likely that a woman of color (almost certainly African-American) will wind up in that role.” 

Shelley noted that being rhetorically tough on President Donald Trump is a point in Harris’s favor, and being from Florida, a key swing state, helps Demings. 

He also mentioned the following as potential Biden VP candidates: former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

And while Boston College political scientist Dave Hopkins said the state of the country does not help Klobuchar, he told New Boston Post hat he’s not sure that it would help Warren, either.

“Her signature policy issues are economic rather than racial or cultural,” Hopkins wrote of Warren. “It’s true that Harris and Demings have law enforcement or criminal justice backgrounds that some activists on the left might find objectionable. On the other hand, the protests may increase the pressure on Biden to select an African-American woman as his running mate, and there are only a limited number of candidates with the traditional amount of experience for the position. As the only black woman now serving in the Senate, Harris, in particular, will very much remain a leading option for Biden.”

University of New Hampshire political scientist Dante Scala told New Boston Post that recent events give Warren an edge over Klobuchar. However, he said that doesn’t make Warren the favorite.

“I think Biden will choose someone who complements his strengths,” Scala said by email. “Warren’s most ardent supporters (well-educated women) already are voting in November, and she does not represent a swing state. Choosing Harris or Demings would resonate with African-American voters, and Demings is from a swing state besides.”

Iowa State political scientist Kelly Winfrey took it further than the rest, telling New Boston Post it would be a bad idea for Biden to pick a white VP candidate at this point.

“There were good reasons for him to choose a woman of color before, and those reasons have only become more apparent since Floyd’s death,” Winfrey said by email. “A black VP candidate would bring an important voice to the election and help mobilize the Democratic base and some young people.

“Candidates with a policing or prosecutor background may not be the best choice, but there are other black women to consider,” she added. “Choosing a white woman amid the current conversations about racism would be rather tone deaf.”

The sports betting web site Bovada gives Harris the best odds to be Biden’s  VP candidate, followed by Demings, then Warren. Klobuchar is ninth on the list.