Vice-Presidential Ticket Splitting
The new British Government is the country’s first coalition since World War Two. This got me to thinking about whether something like that could happen here. Divided government (one party controls the White House, the other controls Congress) functions like a coalition, but what about divided government within the Executive Branch?
Try this one on for size. Suppose Indiana gave its citizens an independent vote for VP. In other words, instead of:
Obama/Biden, McCain/ Palin
You would have this:
Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin
As far as I can see, nothing in the Twelfth Amendment or federal law requires that the president and vice-president run on a single ballot. (Indeed, the Twelfth Amendment requires the electors to take separate votes for President and VP). Thus, any state could experiment with ticket-splitting. This would, of course, increase the likelihood that one party would win the presidency and the other the vice-presidency.
Now would this create a coalition? Well, sort of. A President in that split situation could sideline the VP, but that would be difficult for two reasons. First, the VP would have an independent electoral mandate. Second, federal law gives the VP certain responsibilities (a seat on the National Security Council, for example) that cannot be removed by the President unilaterally. States, of course, sometimes have separate votes for Governor & Lt. Gov. (though in most states the Lt. Gov. has no official function other than succeeding a Governor), and that may be a useful source of information. But it’s worth thinking about.