The Florida poll also featured the worst performers for Romney. Though no one seriously mentions Florida Gov. Rick Scott as a potential running mate for Romney, the PPP poll showed that if he was added to the ticket, Romney would fall from four behind Obama to 14 behind, a net loss of 10 percentage points.
The second worst performer is tea party favorite Republican Rep. Allen West. Though some conservatives frequently mention West as a potential VP, there is no indication Romney has considered him for the role. Nonetheless, the June PPP poll showed that with West as Romney’s running mate, Romney falls from four percentage points behind Obama to 11 percentage points behind in the state, a net loss of seven percentage points.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann can also be seen as a kiss of death for Romney, according to a PPP poll of Minnesota from early June. Though the poll showed Romney already down to Obama in the state by a whopping 15 percentage points, with Bachmann listed as his running mate, Romney falls to 21 percentage points down, a net loss of six percentage points.
Some unlikely VP nominees performed well for Romney in PPP polling. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, for instance, helped narrow Obama’s lead in his state by 3 percentage points, according to a mid-June poll of that battleground state. A late May poll of Pennsylvania showed former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge doing the same for Romney in his state, narrowing Obama’s lead from 8 percentage points to 5 percentage points with Ridge listed as Romney’s number two.
Perhaps the most unlikely candidate for Romney’s running mate that PPP polled is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who recently garnered press for organizing a “posse” to look into the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate. In the late-May PPP poll of Arizona, Romney had a seven percentage point lead over Obama in the state, though that lead narrowed to two percentage points when Arpaio was listed as Romney’s VP.
Of course, there are limits to what this series of PPP polls can show. While Ryan clearly helps Romney in Wisconsin, it’s unclear how his addition to the ticket would affect Romney in other states. Ryan’s Medicare-reforming budget plan, for instance, could possibly hurt Romney in the elderly-laden key battleground state of Florida.
Conversely, while Rubio doesn’t seem to help Romney all that much in Florida, his star power may benefit Romney in other states.
The states of other frequently mentioned potential VP picks like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie weren’t polled, likely because their states aren’t seen as “in play.” For his part, Romney has repeatedly said that preparedness to serve as president is his number one criterion in choosing a running mate, not politics or potential electoral benefit.
Each of the PPP state polls was conducted through automatic phone interviews of between 500 and 1,163 voters. The margins of error ranged from 2.9 percent to 4.4 percent.