by Doctor Science
Since Hillary Clinton announced (via text message!) her choice of Tim Kaine as her running mate, I've seen people say that he was chosen for governing experience, not for what he brings to the campaign; or for some sort of general "pivot to the center" policy quality, without the ability to fire up the Democratic base.
What no-one seems to be pointing out is that Kaine appeals to a specific demographic, and that choosing him is part of a coordinated effort by the Clinton Campaign.
That demographic is Nice White Republican Women. They're risk-averse and conflict-averse, they try hard to be nice, and they're only happy with a political choice if they can say, "they seem like a nice person."
Donald Trump is not a Nice Person. He's angry, he shouts, he insults people, he's crude. He's also specifically threatening to white women because he's almost a caricature of The Guy Who Will Dump You, the man whose loyalty only extends as far as he thinks you're "hot".
Most NWRW will still vote for him, out of party & tribal loyalty or because they hate Hillary even more. But some of them are "Dem-curious", willing to consider breaking their usual habit of voting Republican.
Tim Kaine is, by all accounts, really nice. Notably, many Senate Republicans like him and have worked with him. NWRW hate conflict and wish people could just get along, and they'll find Kaine's collegial track record very reassuring.
Kaine's contribution to the ticket, for NWRW, isn't so much his policies or experience as his personality. He reassures them that Democrats can be nice people, and his niceness makes Trump's nastiness more obvious by contrast. He's also reassuring, frankly, because he's a white male, so will come across as more "normal" and safe to NWRW who are twitchy about breaking ranks.
Samantha Bee saw some of this right away:
I'm pretty sure the Clinton Campaign, no fools, is targeting NWRW voters with ads like April's Love and Kindness and the recent Role Models. The message expressed here isn't "Hillary will fight for you" or "Hillary will work with you", as she says to progressive supporters. Instead, these ads say "Hillary values what you do: kindness, children, getting along. Being nice."
How well is this going to work? We'll see, of course, but yesterday I noticed a comment at Balloon Juice by Kay, a regular from Ohio IIRC:
I sometimes listen to Right wing religious radio in the car when I'm driving around for work. Our "local" FM station is very popular- it's listener supported with donations- some kind of local franchise of a national company.Most of those callers will NEVER vote for Hillary, they're too strongly anti-abortion. But some of their friends might (though without telling anyone) because they're so repelled by Trump and reassured by That Nice Tim Kaine.
Anyway, they were doing a wrap up of the convention and a lot of the religious Righties calling in hate Trump and say he's taken over the GOP and made it godless. The callers were like 90% women- one after another. They don't believe he's anti-abortion and they hate, hate, hate that he has multiple ex-wives. Several said his grown children didn't talk about their mothers at the convention. Obviously they probably can't talk about their mothers at the Trump Show with Melania sitting there, but these women thought that was hugely disrespectful- that they didn't mention their mothers.
I also noticed this tweet from James Fallows:
Very interesting to watch Fox right now.— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) July 23, 2016
They are *all* saying Kaine did very well, and voters want to hear some hope.
Roger Ailes is barely out the door, and Fox News is already becoming less all-Republican-all-the-time. If they start to reflect the values of conservative women where they diverge from conservative men--a preference for compromise over anger, for instance--this change could be enormously consequential. Policy is still important, of course, but what voters respond to first is personality and emotional style. Kaine's personality is going to draw some Republican voters over to the Democratic side, and that's a powerful reason he's on the ticket.