Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events

“In all likelihood.”

It’s an interesting turn of phrase: A promise, sort of. But not quite.

On Sunday night, former vice president Joe Biden made the promise many have been waiting for: His vice president will be a woman. He’s hinted at the possibility before, saying he would “prefer” a vice president who is “of color and/or a different gender,” and name-dropping former candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) as possible running mates. But tonight, he left no room for speculation. If he wins the presidency in November, the United States will have its first female vice president.

CNN moderator Dana Bash pressed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to make the same commitment. But in what could have been a campaign-defining moment, he waffled.

“My very strong tendency is to move in that direction,” he said.

“In all likelihood,” he would choose a female running mate, he said.

It seems like the obvious move, said Jennifer Lawless, a professor of women in politics at the University of Virginia. As a septuagenarian white man running for president, she said, you certainly need some diversity on the ticket. And with the number of qualified female candidates who entered the 2020 Democratic, there is certainly no lack of women to choose from.

So why wouldn’t Sanders just commit?

Viewers quickly chimed in that “in all likelihood” simply was “not good enough.”

This election cycle, the vice presidential selection is particularly important. Biden and Sanders are 77 and 78, respectively: There’s a good chance that, if elected, they won’t serve a second term. Biden has said he considers himself a “bridge” to the next generation of Democratic leaders. If the 2020 Democratic vice presidential candidate is a woman, and the Democrat wins, Lawless said, she will be better positioned than any other woman in history to become the first female president of the United States.

And so, Sunday’s debate introduced an important new piece of calculus to the 2020 election: Could a vote for Biden put America a little closer to its first female president in 2024?

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