Paul Ryan is best Romney VP choice to help win home state, analysis of PPP polls show

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Of all the candidates Mitt Romney is believed to be considering for his running mate, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is best positioned to help deliver his home state, according to a Daily Caller analysis of multiple polls conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Since May, the Democratic polling firm PPP has been conducting polls in battleground states. In addition to polling direct match-ups between the former Massachusetts governor and President Barack Obama, the firm also tests Romney with each state’s most notable political figures listed as his running mate versus the ticket of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Of the nearly three dozen Romney VP candidates tested across 15 states since mid-May by PPP, none helps Romney improve his position better in the potential running mate’s home state than Ryan in Wisconsin.

According to a PPP poll of Wisconsin from early July, Obama outpolls Romney in the state 50 percent to 44 percent. But with Ryan as Romney’s running mate, Obama’s lead narrows to just one percentage point.

The net 5 percentage points Ryan brings to Romney in Wisconsin is the best showing of any potential VP candidate measured by PPP in his or her home state. President Obama won Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes decisively in 2008, but in 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the state just barely went to the Democrats — by just over 10,000 votes in 2004 and just over 5,000 votes in 2000.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty are the next-best performers for Romney, according to PPP polling. (RELATED: Follow The Daily Caller’s continuing coverage of the 2012 campaign)

A PPP poll released last week shows that Romney has narrowed Obama’s lead in New Mexico from 14 percentage points in April to just five percentage points. Though Martinez is rarely mentioned as a VP contender anymore, the July PPP poll shows that with Martinez on the ticket, Obama’s lead falls to just one percentage point in the state — a net pick-up for four percentage points for Romney. This meshes with the results of April’s PPP poll of New Mexico, which showed Martinez helping narrow Obama’s large lead over Romney by three percentage points when she was listed on the ticket.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is widely considered to be among Romney’s top choices for vice president, also provides a net four percentage point pick up for Romney in Minnesota, according to PPP’s early June poll of the state. Obama polled 15 percentage points ahead of Romney in a head-to-head match-up, but that lead narrowed to 11 percentage points when Pawlenty was polled as Romney’s running mate. Considering the margin of Obama’s lead in the state, however, the race in Minnesota would have to tighten significantly for Pawlenty to make a difference.

PPP’s polling did find other surprising results for some of the candidates frequently mentioned as top possibilities to be Romney’s running mate. Though pundits frequently claim that Sen. Rob Portman could help aid Romney by delivering the key battleground state of Ohio, a late-June PPP poll showed Obama’s lead over Romney in the state widen slightly when Portman was listed as his running mate. In the head-to-head matchup, Obama led Romney 47 to 44 in Ohio, but with Portman on the ticket, Obama’s lead increased by one percentage point.

Although not a net negative for Romney, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would not likely help Romney very much in the Sunshine State. Adding him to the ticket only netted Romney one percentage point, according to an early June PPP poll of the key battleground state. Obama’s lead over Romney in that poll dropped from four percentage points to three percentage points with Rubio listed as Romney’s running mate, though in a close race one percentage point could conceivably be decisive — just ask Al Gore.

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.

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