The Ticket

When will Romney choose a vice presidential candidate?

Using recent history as an indicator, there's plenty of time left to speculate about who Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate.

A trend analysis by Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia Center for Politics shows that in modern politics, nominees almost always wait until the final days before the party convention to release the name of their vice presidential picks.

"Since 1992—if one discounts the 2004 outlier, when John Kerry selected John Edwards 20 days before the start of the Democratic convention—candidates have chosen their running mates, on average, just four days before their party's convention," Skelley wrote in his analysis. "Prior to 1992, VP choices were sometimes still selected at the actual convention."

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Courtesy of the University of Virginia Center for Politics

Assuming Romney follows the trend, that would put his announcement sometime after Aug. 20, since the Republican convention, held in Tampa, Fla., is scheduled to begin on Aug. 27.

The reasons for this late timing, Skelley says, are varied:

Doing so builds drama as the convention approaches. In this age of early finishes to nominating contests, the VP selection is really the only new and exciting campaign element before a cut-and-dried convention. Moreover, putting off the choice minimizes expenses for the campaign. Once a candidate has chosen a running mate, that person and his or her family become a major part of the operation. The VP nominee will be flying around the country separately to raise money and talk to voters, creating the need for more staffers, planes and logistics. Procrastination also reduces the available time for intra-party opposition to build toward the VP nominee-designate—something that could potentially embarrass the ticket at the convention.

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