“Joe would make a great president.” That’s what Jill Biden said about her husband the vice president Tuesday on the “Today” show. Spousal pride aside, there’s a building consensus Joe Biden shouldn’t even be on the Democratic ticket this year.
Mr. Biden is viewed unfavorably by 50 percent of independents and 52 percent of those who say they are not yet committed to a presidential candidate, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll from late May. Even more poignant if the election is close, the veep’s unpopularity is worse in swing states than his national average. “In the 12 swing states likely to determine the outcome of the presidential election, only 40 percent of registered voters view Biden favorably, while 54 percent view him unfavorably,” USA Today reported. “The 12 swing states in the poll are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.”
The likelihood that the next man a heartbeat away from the presidency won’t be a Democrat brings up the important subject of who Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney should select as his running mate. Among the countless personality considerations in play, there are several perennial factors modern campaigns look at to determine what would help balance out a ticket to make it more competitive for the general election. The three major areas being taken into account are diversity, geography and ideology.
Race and sex are always on the table. In an increasingly multicultural nation, diversity isn’t merely a superficial afterthought. Picking a woman or a Hispanic, for example, might help a ticket broaden its appeal. In our politically correct age, there is also the question of whether two stuffy white guys would come off as too boring on the stump.
Given Mr. Romney’s East Coast and Midwest connections, some strategists recommend that he reach out to different parts of the country by picking a running mate from the South or West. Or more precisely, perhaps he should go for someone from a specific state he absolutely needs to win, such as Florida or Ohio. In every election except one since 1972, elephants have carried their VP nominee’s home state. This tactic hasn’t worked as well for Democrats, with John Edwards of North Carolina in 2004, Lloyd Bentsen of Texas in 1988, Geraldine Ferraro of New York in 1984 and Sargent Shriver of Maryland in 1972 all losing their home states. Even more humiliating was 2000, when sitting Vice President Al Gore lost his own state of Tennessee when he was running for president.
The last major factor is ideology. Many conservatives insist Mr. Romney needs to pick a red-meat running mate to shore up the party base, while some big-tenters argue for someone more liberal to try to attract disaffected Obama voters. Above all, of course, is electability, which brings us back to Joe. His persistent gaffes and low ratings have some Democrats clamoring to dump him in favor of someone serious like Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. No matter which party wins the race for the White House, Mr. Biden might not get a second term.
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).