As people start getting bored with the Republican primary, inevitably the political conversation has turned to whom Mitt Romney will pick as his running mate. These discussions involve calculations about who can best ‘balance’ the ticket to appeal to specific constituencies and assuage doubts about the nominee’s qualities.
My own feeling is that even a carefully thought out vice-presidential pick does not win elections but a bad choice can lose them. History suggests that it is better to pick a safe, familiar face who may not be exciting but is unlikely to have any problems lurking in their past that risks blowing up during the campaign, the way that a novel choice might have. [Update: Going backwards to the 1960 elections, the winning vice presidents have been Biden, Cheney, Gore, Quayle, Bush, Mondale, Agnew, Humphrey, and Johnson of whom only Agnew and Quayle were relatively unknown on the national stage at the time of nomination. The losing vice-presidents were Palin, Edwards, Lieberman, Kemp, Quayle, Bentsen, Ferraro, Mondale, Dole, Shriver, Muskie, Miller, Lodge, amongst whom were many more unknowns.]
On the other hand, that astute political analyst Sarah Palin, in her typical mavericky style, suggests that Republican nominee should not play it safe but throw caution to the winds and pick someone like her as his running mate.
After all, that worked out well last time didn’t it?