What is Running Mate?

Definition and meaning of running mate: A running mate is an individual who is chosen by a political candidate to join them on their ticket when running for office. This individual is typically of the same party affiliation as the candidate and will join them in the general election, if successful in the primaries. For example, in the 2020 presidential election, Kamala Harris was Joe Biden's running mate. The running mate is most commonly chosen to provide a political balance to the ticket and to appeal to a wider voting base. However, in a more reform-minded approach, independent candidates may opt to choose a running mate from a different party affiliation, or even a different political ideology from their own, in order to demonstrate a more open-minded approach to governance. This is a departure from the traditional two-party system, where candidates of the same party affiliation are typically chosen to run together. In either case, the running mate is chosen to bring a different perspective to the ticket, and provide additional political support. The ultimate goal of having a running mate is to increase the chances of the ticket winning the general election.


Explore free resources for voter education

Learn more about elections and American politics
Frame 30 (1)