Monday, May 28, 2012

Guess who's back

Vice Presidential Power Rankings
Due to vacation time and a generally busy schedule by the author, the vice-presidential power rankings are behind the times.  So, we’re hoping to correct that here.  While these power rankings are not a scientific process (but really, what power rankings are an exact science) there is some method behind our madness.  The hardest part of these power rankings is to come up with a list of people who might be in contention for such an important position.  Here, we have to use public statements, analyses from political journalists, historical perspectives, among others to generate names and then decide on the person that the Romney campaign might choose.  So, this is how we have been basing our ranking system.
Mitt Romney has announced that the most important qualification for his vice-president would be that the person must be pro-life.
The person who Romney placed in charge of the vice-presidential search was his former Chief of Staff from when he was governor of Massachusetts.  To some political journalists, this has indicated that Romney is going to choose someone who he is comfortable with or with somebody who he has supported prior or supported him early on in his campaign.
The woman in charge of the vice-presidential search has stated that she is looking to add some diversity to the ticket in an effort to combat that particular advantage.
As Nate Silver pointed out and we repeated, it has been extremely rare for a presidential ticket to be made up of two governors.
One of the perceived weaknesses of Mitt Romney has to do with foreign policy.  So some analysis has tended to focus on him choosing someone with considerable experience in foreign policy.
Going back to point #2, most people have assumed that Romney is going to choose someone who does not deviate far from his game plan or run the risk of “hot microphone” moments.  Additionally, he does not want to choose someone who is not going to be used to the national spotlight or could have numerous gaffes that Obama and staff could point out.
The impact of the vice-presidential candidate on his/her home state is not as big as one thinks.  The impact has been measured by Nate Silver at The New York Times´ blog “Five Thirty-Eight.”
Mitt Romney has been accused by critics that he is unable to understand the issues by everyday people because of his vast amount of wealth.
When Rick Santorum dropped out of the race and Romney became the presumptive favorite, there was immediate action by the Romney campaign and a response by the Obama campaign that brought up the “war on women.”  This looked like it was going to be a major issue by both campaigns to cater towards the female vote.  This has not held up over the past few months.
With Barack Obama’s announcement that he supports same-sex marriage, Romney has came out and said that he does not support same-sex marriages but rather civil unions.  This issue might come up over the course of the campaign and those people, who Romney is looking at, ideally would have the same response to their support for same-sex marriage.
If Mitt Romney chose one of those Republicans who were running for the presidential nomination, it would be rather easy for the Obama campaign or others not officially affiliated to produce a video of those Republicans poking holes in Romney’s campaign.  Oh, that was already done without Romney naming one of those?
There are some others that weigh into the rankings, as well, but those are specific cases instead of generalities that we might be able to make.
Vice-Presidential Power Rankings
1.       Marco Rubio- I might be in the minority of those trying to handicap this race that has Rubio still ahead of Rob Portman.  What Rubio brings to the table: Rubio is one of the Senators from Florida and even though the vice president home state does not affect the numbers as much as one might initially think, it is certainly possible that in a close race such as Florida that Romney might pull out all of the stops to ensure victory in a state that has 29 electoral votes.  But, we would have to assume that Rubio has a high favorability rating in Florida.  Additionally, we would have to assume that there are voters, not only in Florida, but in other states, as well, that would vote for the Romney/Rubio ticket as opposed to a Romney/Portman or whoever ticket.  It might be a reasonable assumption if Romney thinks that he can pick up Hispanic voters in the Western part of the United States, like Arizona or Nevada.  He brings some foreign policy experience with him.  Why not Rubio: His own political aspirations might get in the way.  It is possible that Rubio might turn down the offer because of how this campaign is likely to run.  The reason I say this is because this election is going to be the most expensive campaign in history.  Rubio could be hurt by any negative images or advertisements that come out about him.  There are already interest groups, such as Wrong Way Rubio, which have already attacked Rubio.  If Rubio wants to run for president (I have no idea if he wants to, I’m just speculating) running in the Romney ticket might not be something that will help him out. It might also hurt him politically, if the economy gets better or shows larger signs of improvement, it’s possible that President Obama would get re-elected by a wide(r) margin.  If Rubio was on a ticket that got beat pretty soundly, it would not reflect well on him.  This is, of course, mere speculation, on my part.  Rubio is not that experienced as a senator.  He has been there for a short number of years and experience could be brought up as a point against Romney already.  Rubio is seen by some analysts to be too willing to go out on his own and say what he is thinking rather than toe the Romney line.  He might be willing to do things as he sees fit politically or to do what is best for him rather than what is best for the campaign.  While, I’m sure this is an issue for all candidates it has been brought up the most with Rubio.
2.       Rob Portman- As I’ve mentioned before, Portman is the presumptive favorite for the vice-president ticket.  I’m not 100% sold on him being the choice but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was the choice. Why Romney/Portman would work: Portman was an early supporter of Romney in the Ohio Republican Primaries.  He did a lot of work for Romney there and helped him win that state.  The hope could be that since Portman was willing to do so much work for the Republican primary, imagine what he could do with the national election.  Portman could potentially swing a very close state but I’m not sure of his favorability in Ohio or nationally.  Portman brings foreign policy experience to the table, as well. He would be the safe choice, in my opinion, and Romney might decide to go with the safe choice. Why I do not have Portman ranked #1: He is the safe choice.  While I think Romney, himself, would choose the safe choice, he is not the only making this decision.  His other consultants might push him to choose someone who might be a little more bold.  I’m aware that this backfired with the choice of Sarah Palin as vice-president but I’m struck by the comment by Romney’s former chief of staff that the choice will bring diversity to the table.  Portman for all of his successes or perceived safeness as a choice does not bring diversity.
After the top two , there is a giant drop-off between them and the next bunch of candidates.  Since I’ve already bored most of you to death by now in this post, I’ll be brief.
3.       Kelly Ayotte- Pros: Brings diversity, Romney supported her Senate run so they’re familiar, and brings some foreign policy experience. Cons: From the Northeast, it would be a tough sell to some Republicans to have a completely Northeastern presidential ticket, she is also very young and might be exposed to criticisms about her experience, and might not be ready for  the national exposure.
4.       Paul Ryan- Pros: Name recognition/used to national spotlight, outspoken on financial issues that Romney has spoken out about, and Wisconsin is seen as a leaning state. Cons: Not clear on the support or comfortability with Romney, generally outspoken and may say things not in line with Romney and staff, does not bring diversity, and unfairly attacked by Democrats who blamed him for wanting to destroy Medicare.
5.       Jim DeMint- Pros: name recognition/used to the national spotlight, Tea Party candidate (may excite the base), foreign  policy experience, and is seen as an every day type of person. Cons: lack of experience overall (elected in 2010), does not bring diversity, and not sure if he ever threw his support behind Romney or if they’ve worked together.
I would be surprised if Romney’s choice is not in these five.  It’s possible but I would be surprised.  Of course, I wouldn’t have had Sarah Palin on my list in 2008, either though.

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