Running mate
A running mate is a person
A person is a human being, or an entity that has certain capacities or attributes strongly associated with being human , for example in a particular moral or legal context...

 running together with another person on a joint ticket
Ticket (election)
A ticket refers to a single election choice which fills more than one political office or seat. For example, in the U.S., the candidates for President and Vice President run on the same "ticket", because they are elected together on a single ballot question rather than separately.A ticket can also...

 during an election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

. The term is most often used in reference to the person in the subordinate position (such as the Vice President running with a presidential candidate) but can also properly be used when referring to both candidates, such as "Michael Dukakis
Michael Dukakis
Michael Stanley Dukakis served as the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts from 1975–1979 and from 1983–1991, and was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. He was born to Greek immigrants in Brookline, Massachusetts, also the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, and was the longest serving...

 and Lloyd Bentsen
Lloyd Bentsen
Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr. was a four-term United States senator from Texas and the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President in 1988 on the Michael Dukakis ticket. He also served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955. In his later political life, he was Chairman of the Senate...

 were running mates in 1988".

The term is usually used in the United States, in reference to a prospective Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

. In some states, candidates for lieutenant governor
Lieutenant governor
A lieutenant governor or lieutenant-governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction, but is often the deputy or lieutenant to or ranking under a governor — a "second-in-command"...

 run on a ticket with gubernatorial candidates, and are also known as running mates.

In United States politics

In the United States, a running mate is usually a reference to a candidate for the vice presidency, whom the candidate for president
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 nominates, sometime in late August, and who is then formally endorsed (usually unopposed) by the party's convention. The term is also applied in U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s where the governor
Governor (United States)
In the United States, the title governor refers to the chief executive of each state or insular territory, not directly subordinate to the federal authorities, but the political and ceremonial head of the state.-Role and powers:...

 and lieutenant governor
Lieutenant governor
A lieutenant governor or lieutenant-governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction, but is often the deputy or lieutenant to or ranking under a governor — a "second-in-command"...

 run together on the same ticket.

In American presidential elections, the vice-presidential candidate is chosen by the presidential candidate. In some states, the gubernatorial candidate chooses their running mate while in other states parties hold separate ballots for governor and lieutenant governor. The two then run together as running mates in the general election.

This practice is rooted in the original design of the Electoral College, in which each elector had two votes, thus encouraging parties to run two candidates for president, with the intent that these candidates would finish first (becoming president) and second (becoming vice-president) in the election. The 12th Amendment
Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the procedure for electing the President and Vice President. It replaced Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, which provided the original procedure by which the Electoral College functioned. Problems with the original procedure arose in...

 separated the elections for President and Vice-President, with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr having finished in a tie in the Electoral College in 1800, but the fact that the same electors vote for both continues to preserve the running mate system.

In some states, separate elections are held for governor and lieutenant governor. In this case, the governor and lieutenant governor run separate campaigns and can be from two different political parties. This was the case when George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 was Governor of Texas
Governor of Texas
The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature...

. His first lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock
Bob Bullock
Robert Douglas Bullock, known as Bob Bullock , was a Democratic politician from Texas, whose career spanned four decades. His service culminated in his term as Lieutenant Governor of Texas from January 15, 1991–January 19, 1999 during the terms of Governors Ann Richards and George W...

, was a Democrat. In cases like this, the governor and lieutenant governor are not considered running mates because they are not elected on the same ticket.

Running mates are often chosen to balance the ticket. That is to create more widespread appeal for a ticket by expanding its appeal across geographic or ideological lines. This was especially true in presidential elections before the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 when northern candidates were often paired with southern candidates and vice versa. Electoral votes also play a
part in modern presidential running mate selection. Vice-Presidential candidates are often from populous states with a large number of electoral votes that may be swayed by having a favorite son
Favorite son
A favorite son is a political term.*At the quadrennial American national political party conventions, a state delegation sometimes nominates and votes for a candidate from the state, or less often from the state's region, who is not a viable candidate...

 on the ticket.

In the United States the choice of the presidential running mate is strategic and depended mostly on the size of the running mate's state, by whether the running mate was a rival for the presidency, and by the age balance in comparison to the president. It is preferred, but not legally required, that the running mate be from a different state from the presidential nominee, because each elector can vote for no more than one candidate from his or her home state.
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