2012 Tuesday: The long GOP veepstakes begins

The Republican primary resumes today, but it doesn’t matter. When Rick Santorum dropped out of the race a couple of weeks ago, any remaining suspense dissipated. The only question tonight will be Mitt Romney’s margins of victory. (Yes, I realize Newt Gingrich is playing up his chances of winning in Delaware. I also realize that, well, it’s Delaware.)

The conversation quickly moved on to the question of Romney’s running mate, which is a little bit silly. Four months remain before the Republican National Convention, and in my view it would be foolish to name a running mate this far out. If Romney continues to run neck-and-neck with President Obama in the polls or even opens up a sizable lead, he will want to play it safer with his choice than if, say, he falls behind significantly (think Sarah Palin in 2008). It’s too early.

I think the next couple of months will feature more scenes like the one we saw yesterday, with Romney campaigning alongside potential running mates. Yesterday was Marco Rubio, the freshman U.S. senator from Florida, and the pair’s appearance together rekindled the veep speculation that Rubio has sought to tamp down. Look for more of the same given that a couple of Romney’s possible choices hail from the swing states in which he’ll be campaigning a lot: U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Gov. Bob McDonnell (Virginia).

That said, here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

1. Geography — but not in the way you expect. There’s little evidence in recent history that the running mate adds to a ticket’s ability to win his/her home state. Since Ronald Reagan’s landslide 1984 victory, which reset the map, the Republicans have won the vice presidential candidate’s home state six times out of seven and the Democrats four out of seven. Now, 10 out of 14 might sound pretty good, but consider that seven of those victories (five for the GOP, two for Democrats) came in “safe states” — which I define as states that party had won in each of the previous two presidential elections.

So, it wasn’t surprising that the Republicans won Alaska in 2008 (Palin), because they had a track record of winning that state in presidential elections. Ditto for Wyoming in 2004 and 2000 (Dick Cheney), and Indiana in 1992 and 1988 (Dan Quayle) — and, for the Democrats, Delaware in 2008 (Joe Biden) and Connecticut in 2000 (Joe Lieberman).

In the “not safe” states, however, the track record since 1984 is pretty mixed. The GOP has split its efforts, winning Texas in 1984 (George H.W. Bush) after losing it in 1976, but failing in New York in 1996 (Jack Kemp) after losing it the previous two cycles. The Democrats have fared a little worse: Tennessee in 1996 and 1992 (Al Gore) was a hit. But North Carolina in 2004 (John Edwards), Texas in 1988 (Lloyd Bentsen) and New York in 1984 (Geraldine Ferraro) were misses.

So, I’m not convinced Romney will sew up Florida should he pick Rubio, Ohio if he chooses Portman, or Virginia if he selects McDonnell — much less New Jersey if Chris Christie were his running mate. And it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if he won, say, Louisiana with Bobby Jindal on the ticket.

2. Experience. By GOP-nominee standards, Romney is wet behind the ears. He will be the first Republican nominee since Gerald Ford not to have won at least two statewide or national elections, and the first since Dwight Eisenhower not to have won at least two elections of any kind. (The two least experienced Democrats to win the presidency were Obama and Jimmy Carter, each of whom had won just one statewide election before entering the White House.)

Ike, of course, had never won any elections before winning the presidency — and, like Ike, Romney is running largely on his experience outside government. If I were Romney, I’d want a running mate with more experience both in government and winning elections. Jindal and McDonnell, each of whom has won statewide office twice and served in other public positions (both elected and appointed) beyond that, would fit the bill. Rubio, Portman and Christie, however, would not.

Now for a side note about Rubio: It might sound like I’m trying to play him down as a candidate. I’m not. However, I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity, for him or the GOP, to put him on the ticket this year. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s assume Romney wins this election and is re-elected in 2016. And then let’s assume his vice president wins in 2020 and 2024. By the time 2028 rolls around, Rubio would have had time either to serve two full terms in the U.S. Senate and be in the middle of his second term as governor of Florida, or to finish this term and serve two full terms as governor; either way, he’d be much more prepared to be president than he is today, or would be in the next four to eight years. And he’d still be just 57 years old in 2028. Now, he would have to worry about voter fatigue with Republicans if they were to hold the presidency for 16 straight years — but then, given that no party has held the presidency that long since FDR and Truman from 1933 to 1953, he probably doesn’t have to worry about that happening.

Bottom line: Rubio has a very bright future, and no need to be impatient for it to arrive.

What do y’all think? Should Romney wait? Who would make a good running mate for him?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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156 comments Add your comment

Bruno

April 24th, 2012
2:05 pm

Thank you. Come by more often. Good to hear from you.

Thanks, Dusty. I’m still tilting at windmills over at Bookman’s place for now.

Howdy to Dave, md, and @@.

td

April 24th, 2012
2:08 pm

Steve

April 24th, 2012
1:57 pm

When Obama took office gas was $1.87 per gallon and now it is $3.66 per gallon and down a few cents from its high of $3.89. Can you really say you are proud of $3.66 per gallon? How about 1 million less jobs now then the day Obama took office. Is that something to be proud of? 1.7% growth rate 3 years after a recession is over. Is that something to be proud of?

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

April 24th, 2012
2:15 pm

“I guess you wingnuts can now praise Obama for that since you blamed him for them going up last month?”

If he actually did something to drive them downward, I would. But since he’s done almost nothing in 3+ years anyway (and what little he did do he screwed up), I’m not so inclined to jump on his bandwagon as you are.

JDW

April 24th, 2012
2:16 pm

@Kyle…I do just fine at reading polls actually and have even read that article. That said my real point has nothing to do with polls and everything to do with bias. If you had said that though Romney is consistently trailing in the polls it is too early for them to really matter I would have agreed with you. However you chose to print that the race is currently “neck-to-neck” and that is just not supported by the facts.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

April 24th, 2012
2:19 pm

JDW, I would suggest looking up the definition of “margin of error” before claiming that polls do not suggest a “neck-and-neck” race.

atlmom

April 24th, 2012
2:28 pm

Obama and McCain were pretty much tied when McCain made the Palin pick.
It wasn’t til a month or so later that Obama started to lead. October even, maybe.

ragnar danneskjold

April 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

Good essay, well thought-out. I am not a good one to offer opinions on vice presidents – I think Dick Cheney was the best vp in my lifetime, and I think he would have been the second best president – and I also know my perspective is not politic.

I don’t think it matters, really – who, otherwise inclined to vote against Obama, would stay home rather than vote for Hugo Chavez for vice president? And in contrast, who, having failed to learn anything from the serial disasters of the past three years, would suddenly choose to vote for the Romney-Lady Gaga ticket? Don’t think it matters.

Kyle Wingfield

April 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

atlmom: McCain’s downfall started when he rushed back to Washington to try to deal with the financial crisis, in an attempt to look presidential, but he looked ineffective (at best — weak at worst) and never recovered.

Steve

April 24th, 2012
2:37 pm

td – spouting more lies? Do you realize that gas prices were down due to an economic collapse at that time? Do you know the real data of the continued job growth since the Great Bush recession?

What do you think caused the great Bush recession anyhow? Deregulation of the mortgage industry and greed. And our debt? Starved govt via the lowest taxes in our lifetimes along with incredible spending, which includes the bloated military industrial complex (big govt).

Do you wingnuts only know lies?

Kyle Wingfield

April 24th, 2012
2:38 pm

JDW: Aside from agreeing with Tiberius @ 2:19, I would suggest that using the word “fact” in connection with opinion poll results is a mistake. Especially in the given context.

ragnar danneskjold

April 24th, 2012
2:44 pm

Probably should have cast my vote with my earlier note – I was a Rubio fan before he was elected, still think he is the brightest light in the picture other than Paul Ryan and maybe Bobby Jindal. I like Condi, but doubt her economics competence; Iran notwithstanding, the biggest threat to the US today is “Obamanomics.” Maybe Romney is enough, but I think he needs an economics attack dog.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

April 24th, 2012
2:46 pm

“What do you think caused the great Bush recession anyhow?’

30+ years of failed liberal housing/banking policies and the inability of GOP elected officials to modify or get rid of them.

Satisfied, Steve?

ragnar danneskjold

April 24th, 2012
2:46 pm

Given Obama’s published appetite for canine burger, maybe an attack possum instead.

Dusty

April 24th, 2012
2:49 pm

Seems we need some new liberal “joke!” material. The dog “dish” thing and the underpants thing is worn thin by liberals. !
I’m thinking……Obama eats LAMB Chops!

Mary had an itty bitty lamb
When Obama came, it was kerzamm! …. Nawwwww…..
————————————————-
Obama can’t even pitch a baseball.
So back to the minors for him this fall. ………Nawwwww
—————————————————
Obama says ” Forget the debt,
I’m going to think of something yet!”…………..Nawwwww
————————————————————————————–
Obama is not feeling any too hardy.
He’s heard the news via the Green Party!………Gotcha!

Anybody?

md

April 24th, 2012
2:53 pm

Too funny……Owebama out scaring the kiddies again about student loans going up……and does he even know why they are going up??

Because the dem congress voted for them to go up back in 2007…..does he even do his homework before he does his campaigning??

AmVet

April 24th, 2012
2:54 pm

The Republican primary resumes today, but it doesn’t matter.

Agreed.

It has always been a toss up between Flip and Total GOP Apathy.

And his VP choice will make zero difference.

It already looks like a Las Vegas certainty that the women in this country will vote against him in record numbers and percentages.

In most bizarre fashion, he is trying desperately to convince the GOP power brokers and operatives that he is a rabid “severely conservative” (LOL!) neocon, though he won the Mass. governorship by being who he really is – a moderate.

And for that reason, the independents and centrists are likely not going to vote for him in big enough numbers to carry the day, as it is. And when he picks a truly far right winger as his would-be Veep, to prove that he is “severely conservative” (LOL again), there go his already smallish chances with that critical demographic.

Prepare for a second McCaining…

Dusty

April 24th, 2012
2:58 pm

Ah Ragnar! 2:46

URGENT request from Republican National Headquarters:

NEEDED: an attack possum, permanently or for starters!

Dusty

April 24th, 2012
3:01 pm

AmVet, 2:54

Prepare for the disarming of Obama! It’s going to be chamring! And for you, alarming!!

JDW

April 24th, 2012
3:02 pm

@Kyle and Tiberius…here are the facts….

—In 6 of the most 7 recent polls Obama leads.
—In only one of the 6 is Obama’s lead less than the margin of error and then by 0.3 percent.
—In the only poll led by Romney has a history of Republican bias
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/rasmussen-polls-were-biased-and-inaccurate-quinnipiac-surveyusa-performed-strongly/

You can have your opinions but facts are facts….

Spin all you want, but fact is Romney currently trails Obama. Might change might not but the current lead, based on the average of polls exceeds 3 percentage points. If you toss the low and high poll the average lead is 5 percentage points.

ragnar danneskjold

April 24th, 2012
3:08 pm

Dear JDW @ 3:02, we presume you do not know the difference between “registered voters” and “likely voters,” and the difference in accuracy between the two?

ragnar danneskjold

April 24th, 2012
3:10 pm

Given that Obama hasn’t gotten anything right in three years, he is unlikely to change his standing in the next six months. I see a blowout of Reagan-Carter proportions. Even though Romney is not up to the Reagan standard, Obama is not up even to the Carter standard.

saywhat?

April 24th, 2012
3:11 pm

Who doesn’t dream about being the winner of this election year’s Republican “Veepstakes”?

Because, wow, what a prize. You get to play second fiddle to the guy who lost to the guy who lost the last election, running against the guy who beat him. On second thought, there might be more value in winning a 15 cent off coupon on catfood, even if one doesn’t own a cat.

Dusty

April 24th, 2012
3:12 pm

Yes, JDW, and Dewey is way ahead of Truman !!!

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

April 24th, 2012
3:12 pm

JDW, whatever you do, don’t give up your day job, because reading polls and making conclusions based on them is certainly not your forte.

1. No matter which way you slice it, removing every poll’s margin of error puts every poll in the low, low single digit lead or removes the lead entirely. By any definition of the term “neck-and-neck”, this race qualifies.

2. You have conveniently forgotten to post the Fox News poll, which is not so complementary to your Messiah, but is still within the margin of error.

3. National polls never, ever, mean a thing. Only statewide polls do, and they typically lag behind national polls by several weeks.

4. Polls 6 months away from a general election (national or statewide) mean less than an AmVet post – that being nothing at all.

Now, go back to doing whatever it is you do, because unbiased, logical, political commentary ain’t it.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

April 24th, 2012
3:19 pm

ragnar, I disagree with your 3:10 prediction.

Mine today (and has been for a while and will remain so until new evidence comes to light) is that this election will be decided by less than 20 electoral votes, and likely less than 10. I suspect there will be about a 2% difference in popular votes, but it may well be that the winner doesn’t have a majority of actual votes cast.

That being said, if that third-party (American – whatever) group gets into this race, all bets are off until I see who will be on the ballot and in which states.

saywhat?

April 24th, 2012
3:26 pm

I have to amend my last post. There IS value in winning the Republican “veepstakes”, but only for the right kind of person. The kind of person I am thinking of would be a classless, shameless, media wh0re willing to shed any remnant of integrity or dignity they may have once had in pursuit of the almighty dollar, perhaps a lucrative contract with Fox “News”? ( Reminds one of the last repub Veep candidate, no?)

AmVet

April 24th, 2012
3:30 pm

“…is that this election will be decided by less than 20 electoral votes, and likely less than 10.”

Huge LOL at the petulant, oft-banned, bookie’s wet-dream.

Intrade is waiting on him and his big bucks.

JDW

April 24th, 2012
3:39 pm

@Tiberious…”because unbiased, logical, political commentary ain’t it.”

Now see that’s what started this whole thing…the spin of neck-and-neck when unsupported by facts…
As for Fox’s poll…too old to make the cut…

OH BTW…a “low single digit lead” is still…well just that a LEAD.

Ernest T. Bass

April 24th, 2012
3:40 pm

Palin! Palin! Palin! Palin! Palin!

DannyX

April 24th, 2012
3:40 pm

“Huge LOL at the petulant, oft-banned, bookie’s wet-dream.”

It looks like another pretty easy win for Obama. Real Clear Politics electoral map shows Obama clobbering Romney right now. Looks like an Obama landslide.

Now true, Romney could turn out to be the next Ronald Reagan, I just don’t think Romney has time for a personality transplant.

JDW

April 24th, 2012
3:47 pm

@Tiberious…BYW since you do so love to toss out the state-by-state point…

Real Clear Politics has Obama leading the EV race 227 to 170.

Then if you did a bit further you find that Obama leads in 9 of the “toss up” states by larger that the margin of error representing another 105 EV’s.

Why that would be 227+105=332

I believe that also qualifies as a LEAD and doesn’t even leave room for any neck-to-neck spin.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/2012_elections_electoral_college_map.html

md

April 24th, 2012
3:48 pm

“though he won the Mass. governorship by being who he really is – a moderate.

And for that reason, the independents and centrists are likely not going to vote for him in big enough numbers to carry the day, as it is.”

Now Am, that makes no sense what so ever. Being a moderate would have the opposite effect on the centrists……they should vote for him in huge numbers……

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

April 24th, 2012
3:53 pm

DannyX: How is [Romney] going to pay for the Bush tax cuts, trillion dollar wars, socialist Medicaid Part D, and his big government Dept of Homeland Security?
———-

Not to mention the trillion-dollar cost overrun in Obozocare that we just learned about.

Yes, he’s inheriting a huge mess from Obozo. It’ll be like eating an elephant–one bite at a time.

America’s survival depends on cleaning up after Obozo, an incompetent who pooped his pants when the real work started.

saywhat?

April 24th, 2012
3:54 pm

md- “Being a moderate would have the opposite effect on the centrists……they should vote for him in huge numbers……”
___________________________________
True, if he were still just a moderate, and not a moderate guilty of epic pandering to the far right.

md

April 24th, 2012
4:05 pm

“True, if he were still just a moderate, and not a moderate guilty of epic pandering to the far right.”

And there’s the choice……the above or pandering to the far left.

The religious way out theres scare me much less than what the far left has to offer.

Hillbilly D

April 24th, 2012
4:28 pm

This is total unrelated but it’ll probably become a topic of discussion, soon.

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/feds-make-1st-arrest-1425053.html

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

April 24th, 2012
4:30 pm

Hairy Reed for the all Mormon ticket!

Jefferson

April 24th, 2012
4:47 pm

I think anyone can win, but we will find out who really “knows it all” in the end. Then the crying and whining can begin.

hsn

April 24th, 2012
4:50 pm

Governor “Ultra Sound” McDonald is available :)

Jefferson

April 24th, 2012
4:52 pm

Marco could be called an anchor baby, right wrong or indifferent.

MarkV

April 24th, 2012
4:55 pm

Who is missing on the Kyle’s (and Dusty’s) Republican VP sweepstakes list is someone who would give us a good dose of laughs in the campaign. Somebody like Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin. Come on, Republicans, you can do better!

Kyle Wingfield

April 24th, 2012
5:00 pm

MarkV: Biden should be enough for any one campaign.

saywhat?

April 24th, 2012
5:04 pm

md- there is no far left in the US, at least not one that gets pandered to by anybody, and certainly not by the current President. Because contrary to wingnut beliefs, a progressive income tax, universal healthcare, responsible regulation, consumer protection laws, environmental protection etc are not “far left” ideas. There are examples of all of the above originating from the historic right. Todays right wing has moved so much further to the right, that they don’t even consider former “right wing” ideas as even mainstrean any more, but as “extreme left”.

On the other hand, union busting, creationism taught in public schools, climate change denial, regressive taxation, trickle down economics, the elimination of the social safety net, etc ARE far right wing ideological wet dreams, not at all in the mainstream.

Independents know this and will vote accordingly.

Jefferson

April 24th, 2012
5:12 pm

Kyle, your lack of respect for VP Biden is noted.

MarkV

April 24th, 2012
5:17 pm

Kyle Wingfield @5:00 pm

We need one on each side.

Dusty

April 24th, 2012
5:36 pm

PLease please,

the Green Party has already given us enough political laughs to last a lifetime. The only thing left is hysterics.

Hillbilly D

April 24th, 2012
6:04 pm

Left and right is like most everything else, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

Rafe Hollister

April 24th, 2012
6:13 pm

Regarding polls. It seems to me that the different organizations use the polls to push public opinion. They do this with how the polls are structured. The CNN poll the other week that showed Romney trailing by about 9, when analyzed did not include very many GOP voters. They also get the results they want by using registered voters or just whomever answers the phone. Rasmussen uses likely voters.

Rasmussen has been very accurate in spite of what the Dems think. The other polls always seem to do a more accurate job as the election gets close. I guess they do not want to lose their credibility. You get the best polls in the last one before the election.

@@

April 24th, 2012
6:21 pm

Left and right is like most everything else, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

Only thing in my eye is their finger.

I’m lookin’ forward to the next generation of GOP politicians. They won’t be dropping dead anytime soon. They actually care about the direction this country is headed in. They’ve got young children whose future is at risk.

Rafe Hollister

April 24th, 2012
6:21 pm

md
Regarding student loans. Obviously the Dems are trying to make hay about the interest rate going up, if Congress doesn’t act. What they don’t tell you is that Oblamer skipped the last vote on setting the student loan rate and that they reduced them for a specific time, so that the renewal would come up during an election year. This is a problem they created for political reasons.

I wish Romney would do an ad telling the students not to worry about the interest rate, that is not what is killing them. It is the rate of growth of tuition. The colleges just keep raising it without limits and with the Oblamer inflation of printing money, they will continue to rise at a tremendous rate. Romney needs to turn it around and say they will never get ahead as long as this hidden inflation that Oblamer is using to run the economy continues, they are swimming up stream.