The Cultural Politics of Dan Quayle and Mike Pence

10 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2019

See all articles by Steve Sanders

Steve Sanders

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: June 7, 2019


This essay was part of an Indiana Law Review symposium on the five U.S. vice presidents who have hailed from Indiana.

The Gallup polling organization classifies Indiana as a “pink” state, rather than a “red” state, meaning it leans Republican but is not solidly in the GOP column. Yet, if an image of Indiana persists in many people’s minds as a bastion of social conservatism and tradition, that image likely has been shaped in part by the two most recent vice presidents the Hoosier state has sent to Washington: Dan Quayle and Mike Pence.

In selecting their running mates, major party presidential candidates typically look for someone with strengths or experience that the person at the top of the ticket lacks. Both Quayle and Pence were chosen, to a large degree, because they were seen as effective and important ambassadors to social and religious conservatives — a group that was not the natural constituency of their senior running mates, George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump, respectively.

Barring some event that elevates Pence to the presidency, this is how both Quayle and Pence are likely to be remembered by history: As great favorites, even paragons, of the religious right, and as loyal political subalterns whose job was to carry the torch for “family values,” opposition to abortion and LGBT rights, and a greater role for religion in American public life.

Suggested Citation

Sanders, Steve, The Cultural Politics of Dan Quayle and Mike Pence (June 7, 2019). Indiana Law Review, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2019. Available at SSRN:

Steve Sanders (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

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