Can Pawlenty or Portman Bring in His State?

Insiders are expecting Mitt Romney to go with a conventional choice for his running mate. Picking a new and exciting candidate, like Republican Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana or Susan Martinez of New Mexico, runs the danger of having an unvetted candidate make a blunder, which calls Romney's judgment into question. Unlike John McCain, Romney was never a daredevil fighter pilot. He always tries to minimize risk. For this reason, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Ohio Senator Rob Portman are the most likely picks. They are solid Republican Midwesterners who are unlikely to embarrass Romney.

One of the things a Veep candidate is supposed to do is bring in his own state. What are the chances of this happening? The table below shows how Minnesota and Ohio have gone since World War II.

      Minnesota Ohio
Year Democrat Republican Dem % GOP % Winner Dem % GOP % Winner
2008 Obama McCain 54 44 Dem 51 47 Dem
2004 Kerry Bush 51 48 Dem 49 51 GOP
2000 Gore Bush 48 46 Dem 46 50 GOP
1996 Clinton Dole 51 35 Dem 47 41 Dem
1992 Clinton Bush 44 32 Dem 40 38 Dem
1988 Dukakis Bush 53 46 Dem 44 55 GOP
1984 Mondale Reagan 50 49 Dem 40 59 GOP
1980 Carter Reagan 47 43 Dem 41 52 GOP
1976 Carter Ford 55 42 Dem 49 48 Dem
1972 McGovern Nixon 46 52 GOP 38 60 GOP
1968 Humphrey Nixon 54 42 Dem 43 45 GOP
1964 Johnson Goldwater 64 36 Dem 63 37 Dem
1960 Kennedy Nixon 51 49 Dem 47 53 GOP
1956 Stevenson Eisenhower 46 54 GOP 39 61 GOP
1952 Stevenson Eisenhower 44 55 GOP 43 57 GOP
1948 Truman Dewey 57 40 Dem 50 49 Dem

As can be seen from the table, Minnesota is a very blue state. In the 16 presidential elections since WWII, the Democrats have carried the state 13 times. Only when there is a Republican national landslide (Eisenhower twice and Nixon's reelection) can a Republican win Minnesota. In contrast, the Republicans have won Ohio 10 of the 16 times. In particular, in close elections (and sometimes in not-so-close elections), the Democrat wins Minnesota while the Republican carries Ohio. All this goes to say that having Pawlenty on the ticket probably buys nothing in terms of winning the Veep's home state, while if Portman can add a few points to Romney's total in Ohio, that might swing the state. The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, Bob Bennett, says that having Portman on the ticket is worth 3 to 5 points.

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