Friday’s announcement that Tim Kaine would be Hillary Clinton’s running mate was met with skepticism by some, confusion by others, and a huge shrug by most. Tim who? In his announcement speech, Kaine even alluded to the common sentiment. “Let me be honest,” he said, “for many of you, this is the first time you’ve ever even heard my name.”
Who is Tim Kaine? He’s the perfect choice to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
Demographically speaking, some in the Democratic party would have been happier if Hillary had boosted her support of non-whites with a choice like Cory Booker or Julian Castro, but Clinton didn’t need to shore up those voting blocs. Over three-fourths of African-Americans and Hispanics already say they will vote for Hillary Clinton, while Donald Trump can’t even clear 10 percent with African-Americans or 20 percent with Latinos (recent polls show Trump with 0 percent of the black vote in Ohio and Pennsylvania). Tim Kaine doesn’t hurt Clinton with those voting groups. In fact, he may actually help. He’s popular among blacks in his home state (he was elected mayor of Richmond, which is a majority black city) and he’s been attending the same majority-black Catholic church for 30 years. The fact that he’s fluent in Spanish also doesn’t hurt with Latino voters, either. He famously gave a speech on immigration on the Senate floor three years ago entirely in Spanish.
A female vice-presidential candidate like Elizabeth Warren might have also helped Clinton slightly among female voters, but again, that’s a demographic Clinton already commands. She holds roughly a 60 to 35 lead over Trump among women.
Clinton’s kryptonite, however, is white men, where Trump leads in the vicinity of 55 to 25 percent. It’s there where she has the most to gain. Having a white male on the ticket may help swing a few independents and Republicans disillusioned with Donald Trump. The selection of Kaine, after all, helped to encourage one of the nation’s most well-known independents, Mike Bloomberg, to endorse Hillary over Trump, and that alone may make a difference in a close swing state.