Eyeballing the electoral map on Real Clear Politics, it looks like Romney is going to have a tough time getting to 270 without taking nearly all of the current toss-up states.
Of those toss-ups, I’m assuming Team Republican can take Arizona (11), Colorado (9), and North Carolina (15) – even though limited polls in CO suggest it is currently close. And despite the typical voting issues that seem to emerge in Missouri (10), I’m going to put that in Romney’s camp as well. Florida (29) and Ohio (18) are absolute must-wins unless Romney eats into Obama’s core and leaning states. If Romney doesn’t win in Ohio and Florida (assuming Obama holds his core and leaners), it won’t matter whether the Republican nominee wins or loses the remaining three toss-up states. But if Romney takes both of those states but can’t eat into Obama’s current base of 253 votes, he has to take 8 votes out of three toss-up states: New Hampshire (4) Iowa (6) Virginia (13). Basically this makes New Hampshire moot (sorry Kelly Ayotte) unless Romney thinks he can win in Iowa as well.
So what does this mean for the Veepstakes. Romney has no shot without Florida and Ohio. This is obviously why Rubio and Portman are getting serious consideration – especially the latter given that Portman wouldn’t even be in the ballpark if he was from Alaska or any other deep-red state. Of course, this assumes that the Veep choice can help win a state – something that is probably only with the realm of possibility in very close state races. Of course, Ohio and Florida might be very, very close calls and worth spending the Veep pick to lock down (all other things being equal).
Now unless Iowa can be turned, it suggests that Gov. McDowell of Virginia ought to get serious consideration as well. But some of his recent moves might be great fodder for those in the Obama camp who would love more culture war talk. So I’d take him off my shortlist (where he was until recently).
Too bad Ayotte doesn’t have a summer home in Iowa (then again, why would anyone want to be in Iowa vice NH for the summer?)! But maybe someone from Iowa ought to be on Romney’s shortlist?? I’m hearing crickets….. Or at least someone who would appeal to Iowans without harming Romney’s chances elsewhere (sorry Rick Santorum) — maybe Mitch Daniels (and you basically have him spend all his time in three states: Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio with maybe a trip or two to more libertarian New Hampshire) or heaven forbid, Mike Huckabee (whose populism scares me but he could help Romney if located in Iowa doing retail politics and otherwise kept in the background!).
As for Rubio and Portman, either would be a safe pick (though I doubt Rubio helps that much nationally with Hispanics given that the Hispanic vote isn’t a solid block. And btw, J. Bush has the wrong last name for this cycle otherwise he’d be a stellar pick). Ayotte only works if Iowa is in play or Romney wants to try to change the game rather than try to win any really significant state with the pick. And if Romney really wants a game-changer, then Chris Christie is the man (sorry Paul Ryan, but I don’t see you helping enough in any particular state or changing the dynamic of the race enough to pick over a state-centric choice. Ditto for Martinez and Rice).
Of course, Romney could just go for someone who would make a competent VP without focusing too much on the always hoped for “Veep who brings a state.” Hello Bobby Jindal?
Well, this is only some scattered musing. And please don’t hold me to any of this since I’ve spent hours and hours grading (which seems to make me dumb and dumberer the longer I do it).