Democrat VP Betting: Which woman will Biden pick?

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Gretchen Whitmer and Cory Booker
Kamala Harris and Gretchen Whitmer are both prominent in the VP stakes

Kamala Harris is now a hot favourite to be Joe Biden's VP pick but Paul Krishnamurty prefers a couple of alternatives at much bigger odds...

"Having Whitmer on the ticket would be great optics - a female Governor fighting her state’s corner against the President...I reckon she will play very well in the region."

Back Gretchen Whitmer @ 8.07/1

Now Bernie Sanders has suspended his presidential campaign, the way is clear for Joe Biden to secure the Democratic Nomination. The former VP is now rated a 1.11/10 chance to be his party's candidate. If you're wondering why he's even that high, that can only be explained by the relentless theories sweeping the internet about him dislodged before or at the party convention in August.

Leaving aside that highly improbable scenario, we can now fully focus upon whom Biden will pick as a running mate. He's already confirmed it will be a woman. Only one man - former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney - is trading at less than 100.099/1. So whom should be we be backing?

Harris hot favourite after latest Biden hint

A clear favourite has emerged - Kamala Harris was backed into 2.3411/8 yesterday after Biden talked her up at a virtual event, saying "I'm coming for you kid." That tease merely adds substance to earlier speculation.

Her case is obvious. An early favourite for the nomination, Harris is a heavyweight and one of his most prominent surrogates. Black women are a core part of the Democrat base - and must turn out in bigger numbers than 2016 for Biden to win. She balances the ticket.

I'm far from convinced though, and suspect the market may be misreading these comments. Biden also committed during the last debate nominating a woman of colour to the Supreme Court. The California Senator is obvious for that role.

Electorally, it is less obvious what she has to offer. California is an ultra-safe Democrat state and, given how well funded the Harris primary campaign was, her performance was dismal. It surely makes better sense to pick somebody from a state that will be in play in November.

Abrams must be shortlisted

At a push, Georgia could go blue and the party's losing gubernatorial candidate - a victim of blatant gerrymandering in their 2018 election - is a rising star, popular across the party. The Democrats chose Stacey Abrams to rebut President Trump's State of the Union speech in 2019 and, significantly, she has swerved this year's Senate race.

Abrams was my long range fancy and remains shortlisted. However I've cooled for two reasons. First, simply the surprising lack of noise about her chance. Second, perhaps on reflection her lack of governing experience would be a weakness - the VP must be somebody who could step into the role of President at short notice. Especially given Biden's age.

One other black woman is on my radar - Val Demings at 40.039/1. She represents a district in the pivotal swing state of Florida and was mentioned early in VP speculation. However she lacks the profile of others higher up the betting so remains unlikely.

Mid-West candidates make most sense

Plus the gain from picking a black woman may be somewhat illusory, given Biden's popularity with the black community. It may therefore be better to focus on the Mid-West and Rust Belt states that will prove decisive in November. That lies behind my main bet to date, from a couple of weeks back.

Elected as Michigan Governor among the 2018 'Blue Wave', the 48 year-old has sprung to national prominence as her state has been ravaged by coronavirus. She's been sparring publicly with Donald Trump, who told Mike Pence not to call 'the woman in Michigan' as she requested ventilators, masks and test kits.

Whitmer pick would be great optics for Trump fight

This is precisely the sort of fight Trump must avoid in November, in a state that is pivotal to his re-election chances, but that has reverted to blue since 2016 - Whitmer won 53% of the vote. Having her on the ticket would be great optics - a female Governor fighting her state's corner against the President. No wonder Biden invited her on to his podcast.

I reckon she will play very well in the region - which includes other swing states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and to a lesser extent, Ohio. It is hard to see Trump winning without three out of these four states.

The other potential VP candidate who would likely play well in the region is Amy Klobuchar - Senator for Minnesota. She holds almost identical positions to Biden, whom she endorsed in timely fashion when withdrawing from the presidential race. Klobuchar's odds have drifted with the assent of Harris and Whitmer, but she remains a key surrogate and one for the shortlist.

Warren best placed to unite the party

Another obvious motivation for Biden is to unite the party. Now Sanders has withdrawn, he'll hope to get the progressive wing onside but given the inevitable abuse from the 'Bernie Bros' and their online machine, that may not be straightforward.

Picking Elizabeth Warren would certainly help. Six months ago she was odds-on for the nomination before Sanders usurped her among the Left. She has impeccable progressive credentials and Biden has already moved towards several of her positions.

This week saw another fascinating clue, with Barack Obama endorsing her proposals for kickstarting the economy after coronavirus. The former President's view carries more weight than anyone among Democrats and Warren is precisely the sort of 'reserve president in-waiting' to quell fears about Biden's age. No candidate provided more comprehensive plans for government.

Warren would also provide the perfect foil as a campaigner. Whereas Biden will be constantly attacked for his lack of energy, nobody could criticise the Massachusetts Senator in that regard. I think she's over-priced at 14.5. The biggest obstacle to a Biden victory is a split-Left and lack of grassroots enthusiasm. She would negate both of those worries.

Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.

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