A Florida Veep for Mitt? Maybe Not.

In the sporadic early speculation about running-mate possibilities for Mitt Romney, one argument you often hear is that this or that veep might help him carry a key battleground state. Because no battleground state is more important to Mitt than Florida with its 29 electoral votes (eleven more than Ohio, the state we are used to thinking of as the supreme prize), its current and former elected officials often make various lists.

That’s why a new PPP survey testing the impact of various locals on the strength of the Romney ticket is interesting, even if the specific numbers are not taken all that seriously.

PPP currently shows Obama leading Romney in Florida by a 50-45 margin. One Floridian, Jeb Bush–who left office in 2007, which must in retrospect seem like the Age of Pericles to Floridians given more recent conditions in the state–gives Mitt a boost of two net points, cutting Obama’s lead to 49-46. But when Marco Rubio, Allen West (Sarah Palin’s recommendation), or Rick Scott is tested, it’s all downhill:

Rubio’s drawn the most attention as a potential Veep pick, but with him on the ticket Romney actually drops from 45% to 43% with Obama staying at 50%. There’s not much evidence Rubio would be able to draw Hispanic voters to Romney. In the straight Obama/Romney match Obama leads 52-37 with Hispanics and in the Obama/Biden v. Romney/Rubio match Obama still leads 52-37 with Hispanics. Rubio is not an overwhelmingly popular figure in Florida with 43% of voters approving of him to 41% who disapprove.

West and Scott aren’t serious VP possibilities anyway, but they’d both have a negative impact on Romney in Florida. With West on the ticket Obama’s lead expands to 10 points at 50-40 and with Scott in the mix it goes even larger to 11 points at 51-40.

The Rubio numbers are interesting, since his alleged appeal to Hispanics should be vastly stronger in Florida (with its large Cuban-American and Puerto Rican populations) than elsewhere. And while Jebbie’s relatively popularity is interesting, too, I don’t know that the possibility of picking up a point or two in Florida, important as it is, would be worth the risk of reminding Americans of the 43d president at a time when GOPers are trying to pretend all bad things in America developed since 2009.

Perhaps Mitt really should take a long look at Rob Portman. He’s another boring White Guy who’s been in Washington for 18 of the last 20 years, but he probably wouldn’t lose Romney any votes in Ohio.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.