Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama's VP Options

There's been more buzz lately about Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and who's going to be his VP nominee. I'm going to take a look at some of the leading contenders here too.

This post will be a bit different than the one I did for Senator John McCain (R-AZ). It's going to be much shorter.

Why? Because Obama's needs are different than McCain's. While McCain needs someone to help him with the base, Obama just needs someone who won't be a drag on the ticket. Anything that the nominee might provide in way of assistance ot Obama is just gravy.

So, despite the many names that are being tossed around, I'm only going to look at four people. Note, it's not that I think it will definitely be one of these four. It's just that only these four provide anything noteworthy to the campaign.

Hillary Clinton, Senator NY. No. No. A thousand times no. I've commented on why before.

Bill Richardson, Governor NM. I like Bill Richardson. He caved to his party a little bit in the primaries, but for the most part he's been a lone voice of common sense. He's got the executive office experience and he was one of the few people to come out of the Clinton administration looking good. He's a straight shooter, and knowledgeable. None of that matters. What matters is that a) he won't be drag, and b) he could bring NM to Obama. Andrew Tanenbaum (yes, that Andrew Tanenbaum) over at Electoral-Vote.com says that VP candidates rarely help bring any specific states. Yet, the data he uses doesn't apply to modern 50/50 nation politics, in my opinion. NM is very tight, and McCain is probably going to need either NM or NV, so Richardson could be a good choice.

Evan Bayh, Senator IN. Bayh would have almost certainly been Hillary's VP nominee. I'm of little doubt on that score. He's recently been talking to the Obama people and they're impressed with him. He's got the same kind of youth as Obama, but more experience and a strong name. None of that matter. What matters is that a) he won't be a drag, and b) he could bring IN to Obama. The margin in IN is also currently razor thin, and McCain must win IN to have any shot. I've said before that I think McCain's chances in IN rest with Governor Mitch Daniels' (R) chances of getting re-elected, so Bayh would be a good counter-balance to Daniels. However, in the end, IN went 60% for Bush in 2004, so all things being equal (and Bayh vs. Daniels makes it equal), McCain should pull out the win here. Also, Bayh as VP would mean that the Democrats would likely lose his seat in the Senate to a Republican. (I think. I haven't been able to verify that yet.)

Tim Kaine, Governor VA. Kaine is someone with even less experience than Obama. And despite that, a better record of achievement. He's not as charismatic as Richardson or Bayh. He is a little older than Obama, giving the appearance of age and wisdom. But, his inexperience could be a drag on the ticket. Obama's already going to get hammered on that. He doesn't need to provide additional ammo to the Republicans. On the other hand, he could bring VA to Obama. The margin in VA is just as thin (or thinner) than IN, and there's no Governor Daniels to help McCain here, and McCain absolutely must win VA to have any shot at all. On the whole, he's probably a net positive to the ticket, but just barely. But barely may be all that Obama needs.

There are many other names being mentioned, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), for example. But almost all of these names are insignificant. If one of them gets chosen, he'll just be the guy in the suit standing next to Obama. Even Biden fits into that category.

UPDATE: I did verify that the new Governor of Indiana will appoint Bayh's replacement in the event he is the Vice-President Elect. And, it's reasonable to believe that having Bayh on the ticket might help Jill Long Thompson (D) win the Governer's race, but that's still betting a Senate seat on a campaign that appears to be slipping. Not a bet I'd make, or that I imagine most Dems would be happy about Obama making. But, it's his (and Bayh's) choice.

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