Patterico's Pontifications

7/28/2008

We might be about to see two VP selections which could have fascinating electoral college implications

Filed under: 2008 Election — WLS @ 7:45 pm



[Posted by WLS]

Reports out over the last few days suggest that Mitt Romney and Va. Gov. Tim Kaine are at the top of the VP lists for McCain and Obama, respectively.

Both have significant electoral college implications, as each could bring one state to his party that has recently been the property of the other party — Romney makes McCain the favorite in Michigan, and Kaine could bring Obama a win in Virginia. 

Not since Dukakis picked Lloyd Benson in an effort to take a crack at Texas has a VP been picked on the basis of potential electoral college advantage.   Gore, Kemp, Lieberman, Cheney, Edwards — none of them could really be called an electoral college driven pick. 

I think the McCain gets more out of this gambit than does Obama.  Romney would please a key conservative constituency without really alienating anyone, and gives McCain some strength where he is weak.

Further, McCain is already popular in Michigan, and Romney would give him a significant chance to take Michigan’s 17 electoral votes.  Romney is very popular there, has long-standing family ties to the state, and beat McCain there in the primary — a primary that McCain won 8 years ago.  So it’s strength combined with strength, and given the sad state of Dem politics in Michigan, and Obama’s stance on environmental issues like CAFE standards,  Michigan could very well flip into the GOP column in November. 

Virginia is a little tougher nut for Obama to crack.  First, it’s still a largely conservative state.  State wide victories by Mark Warner, James Webb, and Tim Kaine shouldn’t be confused for a sudden nostalgia for Teddy Kennedy  or Barbara Boxer in the Old Dominion.  Obama is a liberal – unlike Warner, Webb or Kaine — and the VA voters are going to have to pull the lever for a liberal in order to move their popular Gov. across the Potomac.  They haven’t done that before. 

Almost as important, McCain is likely to widely outperform Bush in the Hampton Roads area of the state.  There’s a huge military vote in greater Norfolk area — especially a HUGE Navy vote.   And Bush beat Kerry by 54-46 there, so Obama’s got a steep hill to climb.  That’s about twice the margin that Kerry won Michigan by.   

And, if you head for southern and western Virginia you find an electorate virtually indistinguishable from West Virgina, Kentucky, rural North Carolina, etc.    

So, if Kaine can’t deliver Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, yet Romney does deliver Michigan’s 17 electoral votes, there are very few combinations possible in a close election that get Obama to the magic number of 271. 

For example, if McCain won Michigan and Virginia, he could lose Ohio, Penn, New Hamp. and New Mexico, and still win. 

Obama would have to pick off Colorado or Nevada to win.  Colorado looked bad for the GOP until oil/gas became such a big issue.  Colorado is an oil producing state, and they see oil exploration as jobs and lower gas prices.  If Obama stays on the wrong side of that issue, he’s going to end up losing Colorado.

— WLS

35 Responses to “We might be about to see two VP selections which could have fascinating electoral college implications”

  1. Does anyone else think Tim Kaine looks like the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert?

    Evil Pundit (646727)

  2. Drudge has an absolutely HIDEOS picture of him up right now. Its hysterical.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  3. So?

    love2008 (0c8c2c)

  4. With respect to Colorado, currently the local Democrats are working hard at losing Colorado by creating new obstructions to oil exploration and proposing new taxation.

    With a good circus at the DNC, ( and the local loons are gearing up for quite a show of moonbat violence ) Colorado will be in play for McCain.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  5. I’ve been thinking Carl Levin would be a good VP pick for Obama, for various other reasons, but countering any Romney effect in Michigan would be another point in his favor.

    Aplomb (b6fba6)

  6. over at hotair they are pursuing the rumor that Pawlenty will be the VP pick for McCain.

    chas (fe8605)

  7. I am torn. On the one hand, I think picking Pawlenty delivers Minnesota and also serves to return Coleman to the Senate.

    But, I am so resigned to the Obamania and the historic tides against the GOP this cycle, that I want Romney to be the clear leader going into 2012. The VP nod this cycle does that for him, imo.

    As for BHO’s choice, anyone but an eminence grise works for me. I want this to be the most juvenile ticket this country has ever seen.

    Ed (59b337)

  8. Well, I’ve been a Virginian all my life, and nothing makes me laugh more then periodic MSM special reports on how my home state is turning into Massachusetts. They love the narrative as a missionary loves the savage converting to Jesus story.

    First of all, VA never has been a red state. There is a sizable contingent of conservative voters who still vote Democrat, for reasons I have given up trying to understand. More importantly, the VA Democratic Party has been smart with their choices for office. They are generally strong right now, with a lot of depth, while the VA GOP is a little thin on the ground. Gilmore was a good governor, but so was Mark Warner. Tim Kaine is a creature of Warner, and he has no ideas of his own. The best thing you can say about him is that he didn’t run the state into the ground. His big thing is transportation, and is plan is filed under “Liberal Central Planning: Transportation Edition” in the DNC Playbook. You know, light rail, higher taxes, carpool lanes. Everything except, you know, more roads. Tim Kaine is just a total nonentity. He has backed Obama since The Messiah was polling in single digits, and I always thought he’d end up as a Cabinet officer. Maybe not AG, but HHS or something nice like that. VP is a terrible choice. His experience is mayor of Richmond, lieutenant governor, and governor. He took Mark Warner’s generally decent fiscal policy (in a break with Democratic policy, Warner spent only the money he actually had) and ran up a large deficit on his transportation plan idiocy. He thinks tax cuts are reckless, meaning despite his degree in economics he has no idea what the Laffer Curve is. He tries so hard to be a Northeastern liberal, but the people of the state and the legislature keep him from doing that. Kaine is a lightweight. He does nothing to counter Obama’s inexperience. He is a poor choice for VP.

    Every time I see that greasy hair I want to puke. A post held by Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Monroe is not home to someone who brings new and bold levels of mediocrity to the office. His opponent was even worse though. That’s why Virginia will have two Democratic Senators next year: the VA Republican Party is stripped bare.

    Britt (c69fa1)

  9. Aplomb –

    I think you’re right; Levin should be the choice. He can deliver Michigan (which Obama will probably squeak out anyway), he could secure the Jewish vote (which Obama will win the majority of anyway), and he can appeal to seniors (being two years and two months older than McCain). Slam dunk!

    Icy Truth (f0c2e6)

  10. It’s fun to speculate about VP picks and the speculation might be more fun that talking about the eventual choices. As always, though, I’m hung up on Texas trivia.

    It’s Lloyd Bentsen, not Benson.

    DRJ (de3993)

  11. The election is about Obama. I don’t think the VP pick will have a large effect. For McCain, the age issue makes the VP more significant. If Obama stumbles, a fairly good chance, the VP won’t help.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  12. Hillary? Hillary who?

    Dana (1cc5ab)

  13. If McCain wins MI, then I think OH is a lock as well. Just sayin’. I’m always cognizant of that cart-horse thing, however. Helps temper any premature optimism.

    Chris (da1e70)

  14. Living in Colorado, I do have my doubts that McCain can win. I understand the point that No. 4 above makes. A total riot in Denver could change things but we are heading to being a Blue state, much to my dismay.

    lynndh (66e68f)

  15. Lloyd Benson — formerly a butler? Right?

    WLS (8b22c0)

  16. I think Obama’s chances in VA are being underestimated here.

    Northern VA is very Blue and there are a LOT of voters there. Also, I get around in VA quite a bit and I see lots of Obama stuff on cars and houses in Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, and Richmond so those places certainly are not solid Red.

    Oh, and don’t forget how badly H Clinton was defeated by Obama in the VA Dem Primary (63.6% – 35.4%) back in February.

    jim2 (cab41f)

  17. don’t forget how badly H Clinton was defeated by Obama in the VA Dem Primary (63.6% – 35.4%)

    Holding out for statewide, with the Navy backing one of its own.

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  18. I don’t think McCain will pick Romney for the VP.

    mary (b800d1)

  19. Romney–not a good choice unless McCain is bent on defeat.

    Better to choose someone that can articulate a plan needed for change without appearing to be big phony. Still better to choose someone who does not look like dracula–McCain already has walking dead vote in pocket.

    PashaG (3de24f)

  20. Oh, and don’t forget how badly H Clinton was defeated by Obama in the VA Dem Primary (63.6% – 35.4%) back in February.

    Please don’t forget that these were very likely only Democratic voters, since it was still early enough in the Republican process (Feb 12) that there was no clear leader yet. There would be very little crossover between parties. that early on…

    This is like arguing that Obama won Utah, therefore he should win the State that went for Bush over Kerry 71-26.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  21. McCain on defense and Romney on economics is a good match if they can stand each other.

    mary carol (61ec48)

  22. I don’t think Romney is a good choice. I think he’s very capable, but being LDS will hurt him. I think there are enough swing voters who would see that as a negative to be a net drag on the ticket.

    I also think it unlikely that VA moves blue, but the increasing DC suburbs are tilting the state and this could be the year it tips.

    I would say that Palin (sp?) from Alaska would be a wise choice. Young, smart, pretty and female. She could help motivate the base and give Hil-dems a reason to vote against Obama.

    Dr T (69c4b2)

  23. Palin and Jindal woudl see their carrees ruined my hitching their futures to McCain’s wagon…

    Both are younger, more honest, and far, FAR more conservative than Ol’ RINO…

    Frankly, I think a Palin/Jindal ticket (in that order) would dominate…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  24. As far as VA goes, Pollster.com has Obama already edging into a lead (his lead is about the same as the margin of error). And throwing Barr and Nader into the poll seems to siphon more votes from McCain than Obama.

    And if Britt (#8) is representative, how many would vote for Obama just to get Kaine out of the state?

    Doug (3b32e8)

  25. How does McCain win and Obama lose?

    McCain must show that he is competent and will fix problems competently that must be fixed.

    To defeat Obama, it is only necessary that he become the stock of ridicule. How? By forcing him to become specific on topics on which his answers must offer more than feel-good generalities.

    He must answer the “How?” of his feel good “Whats?”.

    Then, induce him to expound on his brilliant ideas. Can’t he do more and better? He will heal the planet, yes? Will he solve this problem and that? He can solve childhood obesity and cancer all with stem cells or funding? Can he send everyone to college?

    Reality is the rock on which to dash a ship of fools.

    PashaG (074852)

  26. Romney can do the attack-dog-Vice-President thing firmly on John McCain’s nice-guy leash. He’s the policy wonk in charge of nothing but giving advice to McCain.

    The big problem is the religion thing. In an instant the mainstream media will be going ‘scary mormon scary mormon!’ as fast as they can, just like they did in the primaries. You’d think the various evangelical types would know better than to listen to the press by now, but apparently not enough.

    Unsurprisingly, it puts the VP choice in the hands of Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, who previous said that he couldn’t ever think of voting for McCain, but just this past week said he is soul-searching on the issue. (Apparently as he gets to see more and more of Obama he doesn’t like it and is more than willing to take any port in a storm.)

    While Dr. James Dobson is not the boss of the evangelicals, if McCain and Romney got him to publically come out on their side because of the dangers of Obama, that would be one hell of a clincher.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  27. ISTM that Gore was an EC pick. Clinton recognized that the Democrats really really needed to appeal to white Southerners, and that Clinton alone was not enough to crack the new “Solid South”.

    Clinton-Gore did that much better than Clinton-Simon, or Clinton-Moynihan, or Clinton-Biden.

    In the event, Clinton could have lost the entire South and still won. But that wasn’t expected.

    BTW, if Obama does pick Kaine, it would be the only the second time since 1940 that the Democrats had an opening for VP and did not pick an incumbent Senator as candidate. (Mondale in 1980 and Gore in 1996 were renominated incumbent VPs; Eagleton was picked in 1972, though later dropped; Ferraro in 1984 was the sole exception.) The last time the Democrats nominated a governor for VP was 1924. Republicans did it three times: Bricker, 1944; Warren, 1948; Agnew, 1968.

    Rich Rostrom (09ec82)

  28. Drumwaster #20 –

    My point on the large Obama margin in the VA Dem primary was that there would be comparatively few disaffected H Clinton voters available for McCain to possibly pick off (or just not vote).

    jim2 (a9ab88)

  29. My point on the large Obama margin in the VA Dem primary was that there would be comparatively few disaffected H Clinton voters available for McCain to possibly pick off (or just not vote).

    But in a traditionally strong GOP stronghold, does McCain actually need to pick off all that many?

    Bush won Virginia in 2000 by eight points (52-44) and by the same in ’04 (53-45)…

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  30. The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do in the closely divided battleground states, but that we shouldn’t have battleground states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Because of state-by-state enacted rules for winner-take-all awarding of their electoral votes, recent candidates with limited funds have concentrated their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. Two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

    The National Popular Vote bill has been approved by 20 legislative chambers (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont). It has been enacted into law in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These states have 50 (19%) of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring this legislation into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

    susan (89cf25)

  31. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

    That might be just fine if we were a democracy. But we’re not.

    That would also eliminate any worries that the political candidates might have in visiting – or even giving a rat’s ass about – those states that are low in population. California and New Yoprk would control the nation through their metropolitan areas, and that would do the farmers in the Midwest no good whatsoever if some half-coked out member of the Bridge-and-Tunnel crowd had her vote count more than the man who was managing to feed her and her million neighbors.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).

    That isn’t how Amendments to the Constitution work, and that is what it would require.

    These states have 50 (19%) of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring this legislation into effect.

    Sorry, but you obviously don’t understand how laws are written. It isn’t the number of Electoral Votes that determines whether a Constitutional Amendment would be ratified.

    Come back after you have taken American Government. (That was an 11th grade class for me.)

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  32. Drumwaster, I think it’s an open question whether the national popular vote plan is constitutional.

    It would certainly be constitutional for California to decide to allocate its EVs to the winner of the national popular vote. Article 2 Section 1 says that “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors …”. So if California’s Legislature said that the winner of the national popular vote got California’s electoral votes, it would seem to be constitutional.

    There is some dispute about whether a ballot initiative which changed the rules for allocation of electors would be Constitutional; I think it would be, because the state constitution vests the Legislative power in the people, but I’ve seen arguments for the other side.

    Anyhow, if it’s constitutional for California to change the manner of allocating electors, it seems that it ought to be constitutional for states comprising a majority of electors to agree to do so together.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  33. Article 2 Section 1 says that “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors …”. So if California’s Legislature said that the winner of the national popular vote got California’s electoral votes, it would seem to be constitutional.

    If California chose to do so, that is their right an one of the fifty States. If all fifty of the States chose to allocate their Electoral Votes that way, then that is their right.

    But as far as a nationwide vote total deciding who got to be President, that overrides the will of various States, and is in direct contradiction to that clause you cite (and the Twelfth Amendment, too). Both of those would need to be Amended. That takes 2/3 of Congress and 38 States ratifying it, not “270 Electoral Votes”.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  34. Drumwaster: if states totalling 270 electoral votes change their rules for electoral vote allocation so that the winner of the national popular vote determines how their electoral votes are allocated, then what’s the constitutional issue?

    Amendment XII is satisfied, as is Article 2 Section 1.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)


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