According to Politco’s swing state map, if the general election was held today, Obama would win a whopping 332 to 206 in the electoral college. If somehow Obama loses all the states where he is currently winning by 4.5 or less points (Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, and New Hampshire) he would still win 271 to 267. So I do not understand all the hubbub about Obama being super weak.
Of course, while everything can change, some changes are less likely than they might usually be. For example, it is unlikely that some damaging piece of Obama’s bio comes out. And though we cannot rule out a major disaster, those unite the country behind its president as often as not. Also, a series of major gaffes by a typically disciplined Obama is not likely either.
So the economy, already a major factor no matter what, is likely the whole ball game, and we simply do not know what it will do. Also, as I argued earlier in Political Jedi Master, the economy is the only leverage point with which anyone can beat Obama, and Romney, despite obvious flaws, is best suited to maximize that leverage.
So, with his back up against the electoral wall, what running mate should Romney pick?
I grew up playing monopoly and probably kept playing past the age when normal people stop. One of the strategies adult-Jer learned seems relevant:
When it is down to the final two players, when you have hardly have any money left and your opponent has the majority of properties with plenty of houses and hotels, it is tempting to slowly sell houses evenly and keep enough money so that you can withstand a hit or two. Of course, when it is neck and neck, this strategy makes sense: avoid unnecessary risks. But, when your back is up against the wall, playing it safe will lead slowly, but inevitably, to defeat. Instead, sell and mortgage everything, even if you do not immediately need to, except for Boardwalk and Park Place and put all your money into building hotels. Even if you get lucky on your own rolls, if your opponent does not land on Boardwalk or Park Place, you will lose; if your opponent lands on them, but they are not super expensive, you will also lose. The only way you win is if you get some luck and you were ready to capitalize on it by making Boardwalk and Park Place a mortal hit.
(I won using this strategy several times. My brother would complain that it was dumb luck. I would say it was luck…and clever cleverness.)
Romney’s Boardwalk and Park place is the economy; in order for him to win he has to get lucky (the economy has to decline) and he has capitalize on it when it does. Rounding himself out by picking Condeleeza Rice for foreign policy, African Americans, and women, or Marco Rubio for the Latino vote, Florida, and a compelling biography, is like hedging his bets by keeping houses or hotels on other properties. Instead, he needs to commit to the only winning strategy that exists for him: the economy is in decline and though he might not have an incredible personal story, snazzy oratorical skills, or middle-class roots, he is supremely competent. He is Mr. Fix-it #1 and captain of the the Varsity Mr. Fix-it team.
For that reason, I think Romney should pick a former governor (executive experience) with a job creation record, a business record, and a Washington outsider, and they must have a persona of no frills, getting things done; they must exude competence like crazy. I am thinking Tim Pawlenty or someone similar (Jon Huntsman cannot because “I’m a Mormon from Utah too!”). I am sure there are other good names out there. Maybe perusing through their bios and picking one will be another post.
Also, unlike Mccains pick of Palin, Romney needs to make a pick that reflects his main argument against Obama, “Obama is not uber-competent on the economy like me.” (Mccain picked Palin under the banner, “Country First.” No matter what you think of Palin, you have to admit that there were other candidates much more qualified to be President, and Mccain did not reinforce his case with his VP pick.)
So I am excited to see who Romney picks as VP. Maybe it will make my list of brilliant political plays and Romney will prove himself the ultimate political Jedi Master…or maybe he will not pass go and not collect 200.
Either way, I can’t wait! This is history happening in front of our faces!
Incredible discussion going on regarding gun control. I will post more on that soon. Thanks for your comments!