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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Who'll be Romney's VP ??? And which party will run Congress after the election ?

As it becomes obvious that Mitt Gumby--I mean Romney--will be the GOP's candidate in 2012, one's curiosity naturally turns to question of his running mate. Will he necessarily choose a big-state Republican ? On this topic generally--the choice of VP in modern U.S. politics--Joel Goldstein has written a detailed and persuasive analysis in Crystal Ball : 
One of the persistent ideas regarding vice presidential selection holds that presidential nominees seek running mates from large, competitive states. Guided by that assumption, the Great Mentioners invariably include many politicians from such states on the lists of prospective vice presidential candidates that they compose every four years. The premise seems to be that a running mate can minimally, at best, affect the national election returns but that a popular favorite son or daughter may help swing an important electoral block.

This conventional wisdom regarding vice presidential selection practice encounters one significant problem: It’s wrong. It simply does not reflect the behavior of recent presidential candidates. Presidential nominees presumably know something about electoral politics and are strongly motivated to make politically rewarding choices. Yet in modern times they almost never choose a running mate based on the assumption that he or she can swing a state with a lot of electoral votes. The running mate often comes from a state with few electoral votes and/or a safe state and, when he or she has recently come from a state rich in electoral votes, that fact has played little, if any, role in the selection.
 So who might Mitt choose ? Politico's Maggie Haberman opines :
... Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick will ultimately come down to two basic choices: whether he wants a running mate who helps him govern or one who helps him politically.

Which imperative reigns won’t be clear until at least the summer, as the GOP convention approaches, and after the fall landscape solidifies. Given Romney’s background and personality, there is little question about the kind of No. 2 he would prefer — someone with whom he could form a strong governing partnership and with whom he would personally be compatible. 
Right now, the name on the lips of most GOP strategists is Ohio senator and former George W. Bush administration official Rob Portman. Second on a number of lists is Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor who was an early Romney endorser after pulling the plug on his own race, and who would be something of a comfort-zone pick for the GOP front-runner.

After that, the list of potential Romney ticket-mates goes on: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (who has repeatedly said she doesn’t want the job). There’s also Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who presides over a swing state but is seen as badly damaged by the flap over a bill requiring women seeking abortions to receive an ultrasound beforehand.

Mike Huckabee also gets mentioned as someone who would appeal to the conservative wing of the party as well as the evangelical voters who have thwarted Romney in Southern states. For the same reason, Santorum is also name checked.
Finally, the Washington Post's George Will weighs in on 'What Romney needs in a running mate' :
Romney’s running mate should have intellectual firepower, born of immersion in policy complexities, sufficient to refute Obama’s meretricious claims and derelictions of duty. Here are two excellent choices: 
Ryan already is at the center of the campaign and is the world’s foremost expert on the Ryan-Romney plan. No one is more marinated in the facts to which Obama is averse. Ryan has not yet honed his rhetorical skills for communicating complexities to laypersons, but he is a quick study. One drawback is that he is invaluable as chairman of the Budget Committee and in 2015 might become chairman of Ways and Means.
Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal, 40, was a 20-year-old congressional staffer when he authored a substantial report on reforming Medicare financing. At 24, he became head of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, with 12,000 employees and 40 percent of the state budget. Back in Washington at 26, he was executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. In 1999, he became president of Louisiana’s state university system, which has 80,000 students. In 2001, he served as an assistant secretary of health and human services. He became governor after three years in Congress.
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Which party will dominate the House and the Senate ? In Crystal Ball, Alan I. Abramowitz gives us
'The Early Outlook for the 2012 Congressional Elections: A Forecasting Perspective ':
Based on the most recent polling results, which show a near tie on the generic ballot and a net presidential approval (approval minus disapproval) of close to zero, the House forecasting model predicts a very small Democratic seat gain (2-3 seats) in the House but not nearly the 25 seats Democrats would need to take back control of the House.  On the other hand, the Senate forecasting model gives Republicans a good chance to regain control of the Senate with an expected pickup of 6-7 seats.  That is due almost entirely to the fact that Republicans are defending only 10 Senate seats this year while Democrats are defending 23 seats.

The Senate forecast especially should be interpreted cautiously because the Senate model has a fairly large error term due to the small number of seats in each election.  And of course, it is still early and both the generic ballot and the presidential approval variables could change over the next few months.  However, both have been fairly stable in recent weeks.  Based on these results, it would be surprising if Republicans did not hold onto their majority in the House in 2012 and gain at least a few Senate seats.

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