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Conventional Wisdom: The Trump Veepstakes Edition

This is our weekly politics newsletter, Conventional Wisdom. In this edition: Donald Trump’s vice-presidential pick and the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders peace process. (Sign up here.)

Veepstakes. If only that word referred to a melt-in-your-mouth cut of steer on a plate. Instead, it’s the colloquial term used to describe the period of an election during which we try to figure out who the presidential candidates like the most — as in, who they want to ride on a crowded bus and eat roadside Chick-fil-A with for months and months while they shake hands with millions of strangers.

With the Republican convention coming up soon (T-minus seven days!) attention has turned most imminently to Donald J. Trump’s choice of first mate, which is expected to be announced soon, likely this week.

First, let’s talk about who’s not going to be Trump’s running mate.

The air was thick with names for a while there, but the field is gradually winnowing down. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker told The Washington Post in an interview last week that he’d recently met with Trump and took himself out of the running for the VP job. And it sure sounds as if Corker fed Trump the “It’s not you, it’s me” line:

“There are people far more suited for being a candidate for vice president, and I think I’m far more suited for other types of things,” Corker told the Post. “It’s a highly political job,” Corker, who serves as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “and that’s not who I am.” Being a U.S. senator was once also considered a highly political job, but what do I know?

Another senator, Iowa’s Joni Ernst, also took a pass last week on being Trump’s VP. She met with the businessman, along with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, and Trump was quick to heap praise on her via Twitter after the fact. But almost as quickly as her name burst into discussions, it was out; “I made that very clear to him that I’m focused on Iowa,” Ernst said two days after meeting with Trump. “I feel that I have a lot more to do in the United States Senate.”

So who’s still in the game? There are reports that while Chris Christie is being vetted for the job, it’s just a courtesy. There has been some speculation that he’s more interested in the job of Trump’s attorney general, given his experience as a U.S. attorney in a former life. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a registered Democrat, is also said to be on Trump’s short list, a pick that would add national security gravitas to the ticket.

It would seem, though, that the safest money is on one of two choices: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Over the weekend, anonymous sources told CNN that Gingrich was “actively lobbying” to be VP. But a late-breaking favorite might be Pence, who has close ties to many in the Republican Party’s D.C. establishment. “Going with Pence would indicate Team Trump has decided consolidating GOP support is its top priority,” Ed Kilgore of New York magazine wrote. Who knows, though? Trump might just choose Ivanka.

On the Democratic side, the big news coming out of the weekend was a Clinton/Sanders unity tour. Reports have been filtering in that the two camps were in talks to roll out a Sanders endorsement of Clinton before the convention, and it looks as if this could be the week when it all comes together. The two will reportedly appear together at a Tuesday rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“I think it’s fair to say that the Clinton campaign and I, our campaign, are coming closer and closer together,” Sanders said this weekend. No word on whether a hug or a friendly handshake was being brokered to seal the final deal of party camaraderie.

Read more:

Is Gary Johnson Taking More Support From Clinton Or Trump? by Harry Enten — Right now, pollsters that include Johnson and, less frequently, Jill Stein are showing Clinton with a slightly smaller lead than pollsters that test only Trump and Clinton. But that could change.

The States That Love (And Hate) Third-Party Candidates by Julia Azari — Where might we expect Johnson or Stein to do well? Are there some states that gravitate toward third-party candidates? Looking at four elections and three presidential candidates from the past 40 years, it seems that the answer to this question is a qualified “yes.”

The States Where The White Population Has Declined The Most by David Wasserman — The Census Bureau recently unveiled its latest population estimates for states and counties by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin. According to the data, the non-Hispanic white share of the nation’s voting age population fell from 66.6 percent to 64.6 percent over the past four years. But that national figure obscures a lot of variation by state.

Clare Malone is a senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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