Clinton as Veep Wouldn't Change the Election

Polls remain essentially tied between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as the campaign heads into the pre-convention summer slog. That gives pundits plenty of time to chew over various scenarios for how each candidate could reconfigure their campaigns before the general election. The veepstakes is already the dominant story on Romney's side, but some have also begun speculating about Obama's running mate. At The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky says the way for Obama to win in November is by dumping Biden and adding Hillary Clinton to the ticket:

Now bring in Hillary. Forget about it. The most consistently admired woman in America over the last 20 years? The gender gap would be 20 points. And the Obama and Clinton machines fused like that—it’s like Secretariat and Zenyatta breeding. And the signal sent to Democrats and women across the country that the whole thing is being teed up for her in 2016. This would be a blowout.

Tomasky's argument is predicated on a recent New York Times poll that has Romney ahead of Obama among women by two percent. Yet that poll is a clear outlier. Obama held a 51-44 percent lead among women voters in the Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday.

Adding Clinton to the ticket probably wouldn't do much to change the basic dynamic. The accepted wisdom among political scientists is that vice presidential candidates tend to have minimal impact on voters' choices (though given the small sample in presidential politics, there is always room for exceptions). Past history doesn't indicate that selecting a female candidate makes a marked difference either. John McCain lost female voters by 13 percent with Sarah Palin on the ticket in 2008, and Ronald Reagan won 56-44 percent among women in 1984 against the Walter Mondale-Geraldine Ferraro ticket.

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