Can There be a Mixed Presidential Ticket?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Constitutionally speaking, there is nothing which would prevent a presidential candidate from one party from selecting a vice-presidential running mate from the opposite party. A vice-presidential candidate must meet the age, residency and nationality requirements of a president, and cannot legally reside in the same state as the president. There is nothing which would exclude a Republican presidential candidate from choosing a Democratic running mate or vice-versa.

The White House, home of the president of the United States.
The White House, home of the president of the United States.

The political reality, however, is that both the Democratic and Republican parties prefer to run straight party tickets for the sake of unity and succession. A party's presidential candidate often seeks out a running mate who "balances out" the demographics of the country. This balancing act may include a conservative/liberal aspect, but to date it has not included a Democrat/Republican element. Each political party seeks control and influence over the Congress and the eventual nomination process for a new Supreme Court justice. A mixed presidential ticket may not send out a defined message of partisan control, since each party would have a very influential leader at the head of the executive branch.

Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican; his vice president, John Adams, was a Federalist.
Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican; his vice president, John Adams, was a Federalist.

Another reason a mixed presidential ticket might prove problematic is the line of succession. If a Democratic president should die in office, a number of party loyalists may feel disenfranchised if a Republican is allowed to assume the office without election. As moderate as a running mate of the opposite party may be, he or she would still be seen by many as a registered member of that party. Certain social programs or economic incentive packages endorsed by a former president may not survive under the leadership of the new one.

Originally, the president and vice president did not run together as part of a combined ticket. Before 1804, when the 12th Amendment was ratified, whichever presidential candidate got the second highest number of votes from the electoral college became vice president. John Adams, a Federalist, was vice president to Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican. Even after this, a few candidates have run with running mates from other parties; for his second term, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, chose Democrat Andrew Johnson as his vice president. The practice of a mixed ticket is very uncommon, however.

In modern politics, a mixed presidential ticket might survive voter scrutiny if both candidates were seen as moderates in their respective parties. There has been talk in previous elections of a moderate Republican being approached by a moderate to liberal Democratic presidential nominee, but to date nothing has proceeded past the talking stage. While a mixed presidential ticket might be seen by the voting public as a sincere effort to bridge the gap between political parties, it might also be seen by party loyalists on both sides as a failure to produce a satisfactory same-party ticket or as little more than a noble but risky political experiment.

Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, chose Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, as his vice president.
Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, chose Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, as his vice president.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

anon994565

I think a Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein ticket would be a perfect ticket to introduce our politics to a 3 party system. The 2 are not that much different from each other. Given that most people are now turned off to the ongoing 2 party system and want more diversity.

anon14828

The way forward for a polarized nation would be for a presidential candidate to seek out a candidate from the other party who is well respected, is not corrupt, knows his strengths and weaknesses, and wishes to serve his/her country, not just him/herself or his/her party.

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