Joe Biden famously stated in his last debate that his Vice Presidential pick would be a woman. Since that declaration, there has been a lot of media focus on who that pick might be.
Based on media reports and the current standing of several prominent Democratic women, the shortlist that has often been tossed around has included Stacey Abrams, Gretchen Whitmer, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris. All of those women have had a prominent standing in the media in the last year, with Whitmer and Abrams being the only ones on the list who weren’t adversaries of Biden in the Democratic primary.
Of those, Abrams has received a lot of friendly press and op-ed pieces touting her credentials, but pushback from some Democrats appears to have shifted the winds toward Elizabeth Warren, who has been extremely quiet since dropping out and was seen as perhaps the best chance for a female nominee to go up against Trump.
Klobuchar, meanwhile, has had a steady presence in the media, but has not been making waves. Likewise, Whitmer, who is the Governor of Michigan, is a recent entry onto the shortlist, but she has made a lot of waves, including attacking Trump, defending Joe Biden against the Tara Reade allegations, and she has been facing a lot of criticism in her handling of the state shutdown.
But Harris’ profile has remained low on the list. Once considered a presidential frontrunner, she fizzled out, giving way for Warren and later Sanders to be the leaders until voters began turning out in force for Biden. Harris has been fairly quiet since then, but there is reason to believe she is at the top of the shortlist for VP.
To start, Biden is not going to pick someone who is a white politician. Klobuchar and Whitmer would make sense as a running mate since they are able to win in Midwestern states — states Hillary ignored in 2016 — and Warren has also won a statewide race, but Massachusetts is nowhere near at risk, and there are no real indicators that she is being considered. On top of all that, Biden has to try to appeal to minority groups, which means it’s essentially down to Abrams and Harris.
The problem with Abrams, though, is two-fold. First, she is almost entirely a media creation. Their focus on her as a young black woman who was “cheated” out of the job of governor (media outlets in Georgia have pointed to lawsuits and policies put in place by local Democrats that led to the voting issues the state faced), and use the fact that she lost that race as a reason she is qualified rather than point out that she hasn’t held any elected position other than state legislator.
Harris, however, is a woman of color, very progressive, and has won several political races. But there is one statistic where she is blowing everyone else out of the water, and it’s not even close.
Back in 2012, a story came out showing that one of the best predictors of who will get the VP nod is Wikipedia. Here’s a bit from that piece.
Sarah Palin’s Wikipedia page was updated at least 68 times the day before John McCain announced her selection, with another 54 changes made in the five previous days previous. Tim Pawlenty, another leading contender for McCain’s favor, had 54 edits on August 28th, with just 12 in the five previous days. By contrast, the other likely picks — Romney, Kay Bailey Hutchison — saw far fewer changes. The same burst of last-minute editing appeared on Joe Biden’s Wikipedia page, Terry Gudaitis of Cyveillance, told the Washington Post.
In the days before Mitt Romney officially picked Paul Ryan, there were dozens of edits to his page. After those edits were made, news reports of secret service showing up to Ryan’s house began breaking. Likewise, the day before Donald Trump announced Mike Pence as his vice presidential pick, Pence’s Wikipedia page had well over 100 edits.
The Wikipedia stats for Harris are telling. Her page has nearly 200 edits, most made by one user, and all on sections of her biography that would be strong on a progressive platform. The only person who is close is Gretchen Whitmer, but her page has apparently been frequently vandalized, and a notification on her revision history suggests the page was locked at one point for vandalism.
Abrams has received nearly 100 edits since February, and all of her hype is tied to those friendly op-eds and television appearances. Warren’s stats are similar to Abrams, but she doesn’t even have the media love (up until recently) to have any hype built up. Klobuchar has about 200 edits to her page, but over the course of months, not a couple of weeks as we’ve seen with Harris.
This isn’t gospel, but the trends and historical data suggest that while there are some the media want to see as Vice President, the one the Biden campaign is taking most seriously is Harris, as it appears someone (or a group of people using a single account) are making changes to her profile in ways that would benefit her. The reason Wikipedia is such an important tool to prep before the announcement?
Well, where is the first place people are going to go when they see Kamala Harris’s name in the headlines?
This is by no means a predictor that the announcement is immediate. McCain picked Palin in August of 2008. Romney made his pick in August. Trump made his in July. We have several months before the “average” picking time. Still, this is an indicator of who someone thinks is about to get it, and Biden being embroiled in a sexual assault scandal could make him make the choice much sooner than normal.