Finally, a Female VP Isn’t Being Set Up to Fail

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Kamala Harris is the first female vice-presidential nominee not to stand teetering on the so-called ‘glass cliff,’ facing an impossible mission.

In 1984, Walter Mondale lagged incumbent president Ronald Reagan 16 points in the polls when he decided to “shake things up,” as he later put it, by picking three-term New York congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. Ferraro-the first ever female VP nominee of a major party-gave Mondale an initial boost, but the pair crashed to defeat after a bruising campaign with just 13 electoral votes in November.

In 2008, Senator John McCain had been consistently trailing newbie Senator Barack Obama when he chose little-known Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his No. 2. It was a gambit, a “Hail Mary” pass, recalls Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics-one that thudded to the ground on Election Day.