ANALYSIS | Recently, David Pennock, a research scientist for Yahoo!, penned an excellent piece, "Romney-Christie, Gingrich-Rubio are most likely ticket pairings." His analysis of why Christie would be the vice-presidential selection is based upon "market intrade data." But the practical politics behind such a pairing with Romney make such a match unlikely at best.
I remember attending a conference presentation on why two democracies have never fought each other. A political scientist from Rutgers University quipped, "We know it works in practice. Now we need to know if it works in theory!" Data-driven models sometimes suffer from those problems.
So why wouldn't Chris Christie make the best vice-presidential candidate for Mitt Romney?
Reason 1: He's not very different from Mitt Romney. Both Romney and Christie are white, moderate, middle-aged governors from Northeastern states who have served less than a full term in their present office. Other than being both Roman Catholic and unable to fit into Romney's skinny jeans, there's not that much difference between the two.
Reason 2: He's not as popular in New Jersey as you think. While articles tout Christie's popularity, you have to dig deeper in the polls to test that myth. About a year ago, Christie's poll numbers were pretty low, owing to his poor response to the heavy snowfall (being on vacation in a warmer climate). When compared to Cory Booker's masterful performance, Christie might have lost a race to the Newark Mayor if it were held in the spring. Even in summer 2011, his job approval rating was 44 percent, with 47 percent disapproving, according to a Quinnipiac University survey, says Caitlin Huey-Burns with realclearpolitics.com. He polled poorly with women, likely over education policies. And Huey-Burns wrote: "According to the poll, 61 percent of New Jersey voters say Christie would not be a good vice presidential candidate."
Christie's numbers rebounded in the fall 2011 to a 54 percent to 36 percent approval-disapproval rating breakdown, according to Matt Friedman with nj.com. But even then, those numbers included 18 percent who rated his performance excellent, 28 percent good, 29 percent "only fair" and 24 percent poor according to Friedman, hardly numbers to excite the Romney camp. Even Christie's rebound did not help the Republicans to defeat Democrats in the Fall 2011 elections. And this second Friedman article found the reason for that Christie recovery in the polls. "'Gov. Christopher Christie got a big bump in his job approval last month after he told New Jersey voters they were stuck with him because he wasn't running for president,' said poll director Maurice Carroll." That hardly sounds like the Garden State is beating the drum to encourage Christie to seek higher office.
Reason 3: There are better vice-presidential candidates Romney needs to pick. Don't get me wrong; I think Christie would make a good vice-president. But Romney needs someone who could appeal to a broader base. He could use someone with foreign affairs experience, given that the vice-president typically plays an important role in the National Security Council. He needs someone who knows how to deal with the legislature, so someone with some experience in the House of Representatives or Senate would be helpful. He could use a candidate from a state or region apart from his own that he would need to win in 2012. He would benefit from having someone served in elected office longer than four years. And perhaps selecting someone with conservative credentials would help shore up support with ideologues that are likely to sit out the next election. Christie doesn't provide help for any of these areas.
If Romney is politically smart, he'll look elsewhere for his running mate.
- Politics & Government/Elections
- Politics & Government