Why It's OK for Mitt Romney to Pick a White Guy from an Unimportant State as His VP Nominee

Now that Santorum has exited the race and Newt Gingrich’s dreams for a brokered convention are fading, Mitt Romney finally appears poised to seal the GOP presidential nomination. The excitement will undoubtedly now shift to who will be Romney's vice-presidential running mate.

Most strategists suggest that Romney pick someone who represents a key demographic, which is probably why Intrade currently predicts Marco Rubio (Senator from Florida) will be the VP nominee. But they are wrong.

Hispanics across the nation are not so homogenous as to relate to the son of Cuban immigrants, and as George Will notes, they don’t necessarily coalesce around a candidate just because they are Hispanic. For example, Nevada’s Hispanic governor, Brian Sandoval, captured only one-third of the Hispanic vote in 2010. Not to mention, Marco Rubio presents a “Mormon” problem, ironically enough, given his childhood roots in the same church as Mitt Romney.

Nikki Haley has also been touted as a potential contender to narrow the gap in the all-important woman block. In the latest ABC News/Washington Post Poll, Obama commands a huge lead (57-38 percent) among female voters over Mitt Romney. However, John McCain’s choice for a running-mate in 2008 shows that gender, alone, is not enough. Women strongly preferred Obama to Senator John McCain (56 -43 percent), unlike men, who split their votes about evenly for the two presidential candidates despite McCain’s historic choice for a running mate.

Strategists would also be wrong to suggest someone just because s/he geographically balances the ticket or has political influence in a swing state. In the past 16 presidential elections, only six presidential candidates (38%) have managed to win the home-state of their vice-presidential running mates.

Some argue Romney would be wise to select a candidate with a better track record of social conservatism in order to ease the fears of those in the GOP who don’t think Romney is conservative enough. This might have been a useful strategy if potential candidates could select running mates in the primary, but for the general election, this is unnecessary. When faced with a choice, the socially conservative “purists” in the Republican Party will likely rally behind Romney in order to defeat Obama, even if Romney’s running-mate lacks the social conservatism of a Rick Santorum. Furthermore, selecting a staunchly conservative running-mate would risk alienating independents, the true block both Obama and Romney need to woo in order to win.

Instead, Romney should focus on selecting a nominee who is smart, has credibility in the political arena, and embodies the spirit of a right-leaning independent (a la Ron Paul or John McCain), regardless of race, gender, or home-town state. This is especially true in light of John McCain’s selection of a virtually unknown, untested, and who the media depicted as unintelligent, candidate in 2008.

Despite the limited role the vice-president plays in the actual running of the nation (how many ties have there been in the Senate?) and the likelihood s/he will actually end up commander-in-chief (something that’s happened only eight times in this country’s 220+ year election history), the selection of one’s running mate can be a make-it or break-it decision for a presidential hopeful. For Romney, this is likely to be the case. For Republicans, hopefully he chooseswisely.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Silvia Cruz

New mom since 2011 and loving every minute of it. Joint MBA / MPP with Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, 2012. Stanford undergrad in International Relations, 2005. NEC White House Intern, 2003 (yep, the Bush years). Intern for Zell Miller (D-GA), 2003.

MORE FROM

White House says it knows of potential Syrian chemical attack, warns Assad of "heavy price"

The Trump administration did not provide any evidence backing the threat.

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.

White House says it knows of potential Syrian chemical attack, warns Assad of "heavy price"

The Trump administration did not provide any evidence backing the threat.

Serena Williams responds to John McEnroe's comments saying she would rank "like 700" against men

Williams said his statements were "not factually based."

People are way less likely to be helpful when it's hot out, according to study

Sorry, it's too hot out to help you move.

Democrats, the American Medical Association and US bishops blast the Senate health care bill

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more Americans will be without health insurance next year if the bill passes.

Dow Jones won’t talk about its reported pay gap problem

A study released by the union representing Dow Jones employees found evidence of a "significant pay gap between men and women" who had the same job title and level of experience.

Mom slams ACA repeal, shows what's at stake in a tweetstorm about son's health

This mom says that without the ACA, her son wouldn't get the medical care he desperately needs.