Sunday, March 16, 2008

One argument for a "dream ticket"

I have argued elsewhere that a Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket is a bad idea. It puts two Senators on a ticket, that wouldn't include any executive experience, or foreign policy bona fides. Hillary has little true foreign affairs experience, and Obama has none. I've said in the past that I think that the national security/foreign affairs credibility that a Jim Webb or Wes Clark would bring to a ticket would be vital.

That's one way of looking at how to balance a ticket. Such a view tries to balance off issues and personalities in a global sense. Another approach to ticket building is purely electoral math, talking about what states a VP candidate can make competitive (indeed, the ability to bring in New Mexico is a big part of the 'Richardson for VP' argument). Nothing is guaranteed, however...if you remember, John Edwards delivered nothing to the ticket in 2004 -- not his home state, nothing in the South. I realize that he finished second in the race, but Edwards lent nothing to the Democratic ticket in 2004 from an electoral point of view.

In an ideal world, you expand the field of play by adding a VP candidate who can bring in states and issues. Jim Webb, Senator from Virginia, does bring with him serious foreign policy and national security heft. Also, it does up the Democratic argument in Virginia. However, given how close Webb's election was (.3%), I don't know how much extra he'd offer.

However, there is one Democrat running who single-handedly flips a state from sure-red to true-blue...Hillary Clinton. In a recent poll, there is a notable gap in the fortunes of Obama and Clinton in that state. Against McCain, Obama would lose Arkansas by 16 points, whereas Clinton would win by 15 points. That is a 31-point difference between Clinton and Obama in the state. Furthermore, Hillary is polling at above 50% in Arkansas against McCain, which means a victory even with undecideds breaking for McCain.

Now, this swing would be diluted if Hillary were the VP. Even if the impact of Hillary's presence were cut in half, we're still talking about a 15 point swing. We're still talking about the difference between losing Arkansas and winning Arkansas -- and a 12-point swing in the electoral vote count. Should Obama become the nominee, I can't imagine him finding a VP candidate who can single-handedly swing the EV count by 12 outside of Hillary. If he's in it to win it, then it would be up to him to swallow his pride and ask her to join forces, for the good of the party.

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