Obama Lost Best VP Choice?

Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio.

While I’ve before on this blog advocated for Richardson, Webb, even Gov. Kaine (or Sebelius) as VP choices for Obama, I was thinking over the last few weeks (in Nicaragua) that Strickland would actually be the best for Obama. And I’m guess I’m prejudiced here as a Buckeye.

Strickland has taken his name out of the running and for Steven Stark that means Obama has lost his best potential pick. I think that might actually be right.  Stark then goes on to name some serious losers as potential replacements.

Stark argues for Ed Rendell, Gov. of Pennsylvania others for Sen. (and former Gov.) Evan Bayh of Indiana. Both of these men (along with Strickland) were/are big Clinton supporters. It is thought this would help with the so-called downscale beer track voters that Obama struggled with in the Dem primary, unite the disparate factions of the party, and with Strickland deliver Ohio. Stark intriguingly points out that the Grand Old Party has NEVER won the presidency without Ohio.

The Republican Party in Ohio has pretty much never been in worse shape with massive corruption during the tenure of predecessor to Strickland, Governor Taft. A man who left office with a lower than President Bush approval rating of something like 9%!!.

But Obama will struggle in the state. It is not a natural fit for him. On the other hand, I can tell you that Rendell and Bayh have no pull in Ohio. Rendell is a Philly machine pol from the other side of the state (the NJ, NY side, not the Ohio side). And Bayh being from Indiana would only help if at all on the Western edge of Ohio, which is really Cincinnati and Toledo, but Cincinnati (trust me on this one) is it’s own world. The places Strickland pulls in are Columbus, north central Ohio (Sandusky area). Obama already gets the blue side of Ohio (Cleveland, Akron, plus suburbs). Tagged with Strickland he would have for sure taken Ohio and the election. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. Obama is still odds on to win Ohio and the election and if he wins Ohio he 100% wins the election. He could win without it, but if he wins Ohio, it’s automatic.

Nevertheless, Obama only has to pull in half of the Hillary Clinton voters who say they would vote for McCain (not half of all Clinton voters, many of whom are already going to Obama, even if noses are held) and according to 538 under this scenario, Obama gains 4-5 points in the general, pushes 320 in the Electoral College and is at a 3:1 odds to win.  Lo and behold this seems to be happening.  I would think McCain’s abstinence only education and overturn Roe v. Wade appointment of Conservative Judges to SCOTUS would be enough on its own to get Obama to get that share via largely women vote alone.

All of that suggests Obama should go on his own and take the party, delay VP selection (now that Strickland is out), the longer he does so, the less pull there will be (I believe) for Hillary as VP.  Or a Hillary supporter.  She gets major influence in writing the health care bill.  So Sebelius or Kaine seem like they are back up the list.  Kaine has the added bonus of putting a state seriously in play already perhaps over the top.  Or at the very least makes McCain scramble and have to spend way too much money and time in Virginia playing defense, allowing Obama to play offense elsewhere.  Sebelius has the first woman VP thing going but she’s not a known quantity (neither she nor Kaine are) and doesn’t necessarily grab women vote but maybe still there’s something to be said for her as the pick.

Published in: on June 19, 2008 at 5:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Stark is insanely pessimistic. There are half a dozen excellent veep choices for Obama, although not all of them carry the bonus of being “electorally helpful”. Biden, Dodd, Nelson, Kerry, Richardson, Edwards, and Warner off the top of my head.

    I think what pundits like Stark miss (and it’s a BIG miss) is that Obama is extremely likely to make his veep choice in a way that signals he’s serious about his “new politics”. Sure, he may be a pragmatist, but I would bet he’s going to pick a highly qualified candidate w/o regard to their ability to “swing a swing state”.

  2. Joe,

    What’s happening. I agree that the rest of the article is wildly off base (Bill Bradley WTF?), but I do think he was actually right about Strickland.

    Dodd’s in trouble over his mortgage deal. Warner, the Dems need the seat (possibly a similar argument against Webb). No Kerry please God. Nelson I hadn’t thought of. Hmmm, interesting. Edwards apparently is on the Obama list but I’ve never quite bought his shtick. Richardson I think maybe is better as Sec State. He clearly wants the job but keeps seeming to be passed over–something in the vetting process is not going well for him it seems.

    Biden I dig of course but I’m not sure VP is his spot either. On the other hand, he does guard/attack dog really well though occasionally fires his yap off.

    But I think you are right that Obama should do a Clinton/Gore like thing and use the pick to bolster his message not seem to fill a lack, perceived threat from the Republicans. He may or may not get a geographical boast from such a pick. Hard to say.

    peace. chris

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