Split Tickets? On the Strategic Allocation of Presidential Versus Vice Presidential Campaign Visits in 2016

Christopher J. Devine, University of Dayton
Kyle C. Kopko, Elizabethtown College


This article analyzes the strategic allocation of presidential campaign visits in 2016. In particular, we test whether each campaign disproportionately targeted its presidential versus vice presidential candidates’ visits toward voters with whom they shared a salient demographic or political characteristic. Our purpose in doing so is to discern whether—and, if so, among which groups—the campaigns perceived the candidates as having a strategic advantage in appealing to affiliated voters. To this end, we analyze an original database of 2016 campaign visits that includes local population characteristics for each host site. Our results indicate that each ticket’s visits were highly coordinated across states, but frequently divergent within states. At the substate level, we find several systematic differences in the populations visited by presidential versus vice presidential candidates—in some cases aligning with a candidate’s personal characteristics. We discuss these findings’ implications with respect to campaign strategy and vice presidential selection.