Had a conversation this week with a gent who is pretty well-informed on who might be McCain's VP. Here's his thoughts:
"It's going to depend on the polls. If it's close it's going to be Pawlenty. If not it could be Romney or maybe Jindal."
I think Pawlenty would be an awful choice. Nothing against the Senator but he's not well known, not that exciting and may not be able to deliver his home state. For McCain to win he either needs Obama to either stumble badly or run a near-perfect campaign. Obama has all the sexiness and buzz and McCain desperately needs some pizzazz and that's not Pawlenty. Pawlenty might be the pick if he was comfortably ahead.
Jindal is the great hope of the Republican Party but it's still early in his career. (though not that early if you compare him with Obama!) He will bring an element of excitement with his candidacy. Have heard great things about him and that he has done what he has done where he has done it is significant but need to know him better.
"Matinee Mitt" is a fascinating case. He's a champion fundraiser, sharp as a tack, excellent on economic issues, dogged as heck and can stay on his message which for McCain needs to be "Obama: Tastes Great, But You'll Be Sorry in the Morning". The McCain team should run a Rovian/Mehlman calculus to see if Romney can deliver Michigan which W lost by 3.4% in 2004 and Obama currently holds a 4.3% lead. If there's a good chance that he can that's 17 electoral votes and can really change the dynamic of the race, he's got to be the one.
I think the race could be very close and it will come down to the states below:
States where Republican margin in Presidential election 2004 was within 5%:
(electoral votes in bold)
Florida +5.0% 27
Colorado +4.7 9
Nevada +2.6 5
Ohio +2.1 20
New Mexico +0.8 5
Iowa +0.6 7
Wisconsin -0.3 10
New Hampshire -1.4 4
Pennsylvania -2.5 21
Michigan -3.4 17
Minnesota -3.5 9
Oregon -4.2% 7
If Michigan could be had it would be a great boon.
Similarly the right pick for Obama would be Senator Jim Webb of Virginia. Virginia has been trending Democratic though the 2004 gap was 8.2% in favor of W. Webb balances Obama naked underbelly in foreign policy and might put Old Dominion into play. If McCain has to fight for Virginia it will be very, very tough.