Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The 2012 Republican Veep, Revisited

Back in January I made my prediction regarding the Republican nomination: there would be a titanic battle over the nomination, full of sound and fury and interesting moments for the cable TV news shows, but none of it would matter because the Republicans would end up nominating Mitt Romney, which was what they were going to do all along.

So far I think my prediction has held up excellently. Like I predicted, we've seen a tremendous amount of drama and noise which has provided cable TV news with plenty of material. And despite it all, the Republicans seem if anything more likely to nominate Romney than they did ten months ago.

Perry and Bachmann have both thoroughly marginalized themselves. Cain's strategy is to signal that he has no intention of actually being president. That's enough to drive up his poll numbers due to the large size of the career politician-hating, contrarian segment of the Republican populace, but it won't get him the nomination. And the latest news is that many erstwhile Cain supporters are now transferring their allegiance to Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is if anything a less likely nominee than Perry or Bachmann or Cain; to me this shows that the anti-Romney Republicans are spreading themselves quite thin.

So I'm still fairly confident that Romney is going to be the nominee. I haven't got a clue if he'll lock up the nomination in February or March or June, but it'll be him at some point.

What I'd like to amend is my post from June, in which I speculate who the VP nominee is likely to be. I figured the GOP wouldn't want to nominate two generic-looking white men in suits, largely for image reasons. And they would be wary of nominating a woman for VP, for fear of reminding voters of Sarah Palin.

This is all fairly offensive thinking, but I suspect it's how political bosses think behind closed doors. It's not so much that they think, We want an ethnic guy as VP! It's more like, We think having an ethnic guy as VP will play well to voters!

That's why I figured the GOP would nominate either Florida senator Marco Rubio, or Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. They're both conservative politicians who don't seem to frighten moderate and independent voters. And they're both non-threateningly ethnic, representing groups the Democrats have not yet nominated to national office.

Well, I've reconsidered, and I've decided I was wrong. Neither Rubio nor Jindal will be nominated to fill out a national ticket headed by Mitt Romney. And if you've found my thinking offensive so far, just wait until you hear this.

Rubio and Jindal are both Roman Catholics. That wouldn't be a negative, in fact it might even be a plus, if the guy at the top of the ticket were a regular old vanilla Protestant like Reagan or Bush.

But I do not believe that the Republican Party will nominate a Mormon for President and a Catholic for VP. If they go with Romney, they're going to want a safe Protestant serving in the #2 spot.

For the record, I believe the Democratic Party would employ similar thinking. In either case, you've got a bunch of political bosses behind closed doors trying to put themselves in the mindset of hazily defined Middle Americans that they've had little personal contact with. Doesn't matter if the bosses are Democrats or Republicans.

I stand by my prediction that the Republicans will not nominate two generic-looking white men in suits for President and Vice President. But assuming they nominate Mitt Romney, I'm no longer so sure who the VP will be.

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