With Trump’s selection of Mike Pence for VP, the heavy odds on favorite for the Democratic side is now Tim Kaine — and for good reason. It always helps if your presumptive nominee for president gets to pick second. They get to make their pick based on their opponent’s pick.
Trump’s pick of Pence shows that he felt the need to secure the conservative base. If a Republican has to worry about securing the conservative base with their VP pick then they’re one step closer to defeat. They should already have it secured and their next concern should be the independent voter. The pick of Pence fails on that notion. Pence adds nothing to the ticket except maybe to secure the Ted Cruz type of supporter.
Hillary Clinton now gets to choose based on Trump’s pick and the smart move would be to go for someone who has a reputation of being a moderate. Tim Kaine pretty much fits that mold. It very much helps that Bernie Sanders did endorse Hillary Clinton. A Sander’s snub would have had Clinton fighting a lot harder for the Democratic base to the point where she possibly would have had to pick someone like Elizabeth Warren for VP. How much of an affect Sander’s endorsement of Clinton will have on Sander’s supporters is still up in the air. She will still have to fight for the far left vote but the Pence pick of Trump’s helps her a bit if not a lot.
I am still positive that Trump’s wish list for VP included John Kasich at the very top of that list. Kasich could have appealed to the independents in a big way. But Kasich would have nothing to do with Trump. Mike Pence is a “Kasich lite” choice. Both he and Kasich have congressional and state government experience. Kasich’s experience however is much deeper with known successes. Pence’s congressional record is mediocre at best and he’s now seen as the troubled governor of Indiana with a social conservative record that will put off a lot of independents. The Democrats and Hillary Clinton can now leverage the conversation over to social issues which they would have had a bit of a harder time doing with a Kasich pick.
If Trump had chosen Kasich then Hillary Clinton would still very much have to choose someone like Tim Kaine to compete for “the middle”. With Trump’s choice of Pence, Trump has conceded a lot of the “middle vote”. He’s given a lot of them up without a fight.