How Can Rob Portman Win Ohio for Romney If Its Voters Don’t Know Who He Is?

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Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, talks with a reporter outside of the office of Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., before senate luncheons in the Capitol.

With Mitt Romney’s vice presidential selection expected in the next week or so, the insiders’ wisdom (read: What I saw on the Internet) points to two guys in the top tier of contention: Ohio’s Rob Portman and Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty. Here and elsewhere, the reasons Romney might want one of these  midwesterners on the ticket have been well covered.  But skimming through Nate Silver’s exegesis of all the potential picks’ home state polling, something really puzzled me about Portman, the longstanding favorite of Washington prognosticators.

A plurality of Ohioans have either never heard of the guy or don’t have an opinion of him one way or the other. (The blank space between the red and blue bars represents the percentage of respondents who didn’t know enough about the candidate to form an opinion. In Portman’s case, that’s 45%.)

Portman just became a Senator last year, but he wasn’t a stranger in Ohio before that. He represented the state’s 2nd Congressional District from 1993 until 2005, when he went to work for the Bush Administration. The 2nd is a conservative suburban stretch along the Ohio’s southernwestern border and only contains about 5% of the state’s population. But you’d think more than a decade in Congress and a high profile Senate race two years ago would suffice for at least plurality familiarity statewide.

Maybe it’s just a sign of one of Portman’s vice presidential qualifications (again, according to journalistic speculation): His boringness. Romney wants to make the election about Obama, this line of thinking goes, so an experienced, stable and uncontroversial pick is what he’s after. Portman is evidently so uncontroversial that a plurality Ohioans just kinda forgot about him, or at least haven’t been moved to any strong feeling about his performance in office.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, July 27 – Aug. 3 

The chart also tells us a little something about Washington. The buzziest guys on this list are some of the least known or least liked in their home states. Pawlenty is one of just two potentials whose approval is underwater back home. Paul Ryan, who’s now enjoying a late-breaking surge of vice presidential speculation after inspiring similar swoons among the Beltway set during presidential oddsmaking, is not a towering figure in his state. (At least compared to Bobby Jindal or Susanna Martinez.) Washington is biased toward Washington figures.

But back to Portman. Despite his relative anonymity, Portman has the greatest potential to tip the Electoral College results in Romney’s favor according to Silver’s model. His modest net-positive approval rating has an outsize effect because of Ohio’s pivotal cache of E.C. votes and the closeness of the presidential race there. I might go even further than Silver does in predicting Portman’s potential benefit for Romney. It always helps to be popular, but I suspect part of the impetus for voting for a presidential ticket that includes someone from your state is self-interested calculation: Voters might reasonably think that such a ticket, if elected, would give their state preferential treatment. In 2012, just being from Ohio might be enough. Or not. We’ll find out soon.

(PHOTOS: The Rich History of Mitt Romney)

61 comments
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michael
michael

my best

friend's step-mother brought home $19491 a month ago. she is making

income on the computer and moved in a $580600 home. All she did was get

lucky and put into work the steps exposed on this link

http://LazyCash49.com

DrDon
DrDon

No one outside of Alaska had ever heard of Sarah Palin either, in  2008, and whoever Romeny picks, the press will be on him/her like flies on p**p  so we will all get to know about the person, probably more in fact than we will even need to.  Will they bring Katie Couric out to interview him/her about what papers he/she reads?  Etc.  The hype will go on for days and already some press flack in the Koch Bros. camp has a spin ready to tell the voters this VP will be the greatest boon to America since...Sarah.

Vote Obama-Biden in 2012.  Stick with proven leaders. GOPers are only in it for the rich.

Dan5404
Dan5404

I really never heard of either until the Republicans started discussing them.  I still have very little knowledge of anything they have done.  It doesn't really matter anyway, neither they nor Romney will get the job.

apr2563
apr2563

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo....

Update Wikipedia to influence VP pick.

Other Colbert brilliance:

It's August, which means Congress is on recess and Mitch McConnell has shimmied back into the ocean to seek a mate.

Why did the fried chicken cross the road? To get away from some gay guy.

I hope they find water on Mars. That means we'll be able to frack there.

apr2563
apr2563

Portman:  Architect  of Bush economy.  Nuff said.

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

Rob Portman: Just imagine him with his head in the porthole of a sinking ship and you've got the picture.

sacredh
sacredh

Heigh ho, heigh ho. it's off to work I go.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Don't let the bee bite you in the macadamia.

Tiredofwhackos
Tiredofwhackos

"How Can Rob Portman Win Ohio for Romney If Its Voters Don’t Know Who He Is?"  I presume the usual way, with mileading ads, etc.  Generally, the more we know about politicians the less we like them, so many of them try to sneak up on us while we are not looking.  He is probably more likely to succeed this way.

J Jay
J Jay

Three "GOP Progressive Plans" for America is REPEAL!  REPEAL!! and REPEAL. Really BACKWARDS. Nothing points to the future if you understand what REPEAL means. Can anyone find where the GOP has a better plan on the table so far?

robertporter
robertporter

So how many years of tax returns did Romney require of his VP

candidates?  Will the American "You People" get to see the whole set of

returns for whomever is selected?

If so, why will Romney not be as transparent as his VP?  If not, tell us again why we should trust them.

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

Let me simplify this:

Romney can pick a moderate Republican and tick off the Tea Party.

Or he can pick an extremist that the Tea Party would love, and tick off everyone else.

Good luck finding someone to split the difference.

 

rickterp
rickterp

Really silly of Nate to put together this list and include someone who will never be Romney's VP pick in a million billion years (Jeb Bush), but omit a likely candidate (Rick Snyder of MI).

apr2563
apr2563

Are you serious?  The guy who takes over towns and dismisses elected officials, sells property to private entities and leaves the towns in worst shape?

ERenger
ERenger

Yes, Portman is relatively unknown. Until now, every time I heard VP speculation that mentioned Portman, I assumed they were talking about Natalie. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

Black heart and black swan. What a pair.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I know my remark my sound a tad different, but I make it as an observation.

Many women are already skittish about Romney's shifting of positions on women's issues, and the determination by many "new school" Conservatives to legislate our reproductive rights.

Now with Two old looking dry White men (potentially, at least) at the top of the ticket, the visual just seems to confirm the insular closed and unaccommodating perception of the GOP. Only old White men welcome to count???

My state is BLOOD RED. Meaning we do not generally vote for liberals, Independents etc.  At the local level, it is unlikely I will support any Democrats either. They stink here and are so cowed by the Conservatives, it is pathetic. But Nationally, I believe that Obama is the better choice of the two. We suffered at Romney's hands in MA and those of us who remember do not buy this "my financial acumen will get you to the promised land" drivel!!

That being said however, on the women issue, for the first time in a long time, women in the GOP here in my Southern state wonder what exactly these men in the GOP mean??? These governors and their draconian pursuit of their own lets control women's wombs, fallopian tubes and birth rights agendas.

We might be Conservative women but we know that not ALL women are, and we do not appreciate the focus in some states on our wombs and ovaries etc. As women we share a lot in common, and have many similar struggles in the corporate world and elsewhere, and this visual of two old dry White men does nothing to calm our concerns.

I do not think the GOP has room for educated and independent women, and it does not accommodate any diversity either. We are taking note.

Two Old Gray haired White men in 2012, followed by a band of anti-women Rights charlatans.  The GOP is regressing. Maybe they will soon introduce a bill segregating women from men at work. Who knows?

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

"How Can Rob Portman Win Ohio for Romney If Its Voters Don’t Know Who He Is?"

Simple answer:  He can't.  The choice of VP usually does not matter in most cases, with few exceptions over the years.  

Competency to be President should be the first requirement for any Presidential candidate in choosing his running mate.  

In 2008 we witnessed the first time a beauty contest replaced sane and rational voting for a President.  When hype overran competency.  When lies, coverups and a media which failed miserably at disclosure about a man who should have never won a race for dog catcher, let alone the Presidency.  

But, after just 4 years the man has proven himself.  He is totally incompetent.  He's also a dangerous individual.  Thankfully we are only stuck with these types of poor decisions for 4 years.  Every 4 years we have the opportunity as voters to reboot, and send incompetency back home.  

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

 In 2008 we witnessed the first time a beauty contest...

Enough about Sarah Palin, Rusty.

~

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

That was my thought when I began to read it since the first two paragraphs were reasonable.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Unfortunately for you, competency to be President rules out everyone on Willard's VP list.

This is why Barack's pick of Biden in 2008 was a brilliant stroke.

A Senator for decades, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, etc.

Joe has been a great VP, who could  take over and do a wonderful job at a moment's notice.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Competency for all of those being considered for VP by Romney out-weigh anything Obama had prior to being elected President by miles.  

Obama has proven time and time again his incompetency to be President.  

Unemployment - 8.3% and climbing

Gasoline prices - 3.59 per gallon and climbing

Average Length of Unemployment at All-Time High - 39.7 weeks and counting (Obama had the Labor Dept change the way it is now calculated in January it was so bad).  

Food prices climbing at historical rates due to the poor management of the economy, joblessness and other Obama policies.  

Divided nation - Never in the past 150+ years have we seen this country so divided.  So much so that mass murders are increasing all the time.  People are frustrated and Obama does nothing.  

More people on welfare and food stamps than ever before.  

I could go on and on, but why bother.  If people do not understand and know by now that Obama is not what this country needs right now, they never will understand or admit it.  

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Delusion is not just a slurring Vegas gamer.

CalBM1
CalBM1

Unemployment has gone down in ohio , where do you live ? 18 months of positive job growth after bush. Portman is so worthless .As you may tell from my name I am a old beat up Navy guy that will vote straight democrat  this year

MrObvious
MrObvious

I know you like to add the laundry list of all of Obamas faults (imagines and 'real') but this won't change the fact that Mitt is a boring stale candidate that seems more like Kerry and the choices of VPs on his short list can't outshine him and therefore are a choice of even worse candidates.

That's what we're looking at.

 

On the whole division thingie. You better check your own attitude. It starts at home and you're throwing rocks in your little windowless house.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

And the way to fix all this is to vote for the same reckless greedheads who created the mess?

Sorry, Rusty.  Your guys stink.  And you'll go to your grave before admitting what they've done, because you're a stubborn $ss.

~

MomentoMori
MomentoMori

 "So much so that mass murders are increasing all the time.  People are frustrated and Obama does nothing."

Let's be clear on this: Are you actually blaming Obama for a pair of unrelated, unconnected, mass murders?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Not that I would want circumstances to come to that, but yes, I think Joe wouldn't miss a beat.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Your first two paragraphs are spot on.

The last two, just spot.

DAK27
DAK27

As an Ohio voter, if Portman is on the ticket, Romney has LOST my vote.  Portman does NOTHING for the state of Ohio other than take up valuable air from the rest of us.  He was, and is, only out for power for himself and doesn't care about anyone not making over 1 million a year.  Totally out of touch with the real concerns of voters.

filmnoia
filmnoia

"Totally out of touch with the real concerns of voters."

Sounds just like Willard - the perfect GOP ticket.

jmac
jmac

The perfect GOP ticket - two pretty white men fighting for the wealthy - Clint Eastwood approves the casting as he worries about his taxes.    

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

Speaking of negatives...

=> The poll also shows that Romney's unfavorability rating has increased since May, when 45% had a negative view of the Republican candidate. According to the poll's release, Romney is "laboring under the lowest personal popularity ratings for a presumptive presidential nominee in midsummer election-year polls back to 1984." <=

http://politicalticker.blogs.c...

~

grape_crush
grape_crush

Yeah, I missed today's MMR as well..but considering yesterday's hit over 600 comments, Sorenson probably made his quota for the week.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Oh yes, it was in today's MMR....

um, what?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Portman's a senator who hasn't done much.

Polo's a senator who hasn't done much.

Yet either choice could tilt a swing state in Momney's direction.  At least that's the hope anyway.

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

It is shocking that a guy who was elected to the Senate of the United States has so many people in the state who doesn't have an opinion of him.  What is he doing, anything?

BTW Pawlenty's negatives should be enough to have him removed from the list.  Pawlenty has no Washington experience and he can't deliver Minnesota to Romney (Pawlenty couldn't even deliver Minnesota to a Republican successor as Governor).  Minnesota since 1960 has gone Democrat more than any other state (Nixon in 1972 was the only Republican to win it in 52 years).  At least Bobby Jindal is popular and has Washington experience.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Well Willard owes Timmy. What with Willard's strong third place finish in Minnesota during the primaries.

No shame in losing to Santorum and Paul-both very strong contenders as we all saw.

jmac
jmac

Bobby Jindal has a religious problem.  You wouldn't think Louisiana could progress any further back - but Jindal let's us know it actually can.  I can't see him bringing in any independents.  

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Where does Bobby have Washington experience?  I missed it.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

He appeared in that "rebuttal" speech.  Surely, THAT has to count for something.

Oh, wait... you meant a "positive" experience... Sorry... I mis-understood.

chupkar
chupkar

At least he is "known" nationally, good or bad. But, his most recent law of forcing high school girls in charters to be tested for pregnancy (basically. If anyone *suspects* they may be the schooled is allowed to force them to take the test at whatever doctors they choose and if positive thrown out), would make a nice crunchy home run for POTUS and the womens vote.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Romney may try his heart out to be a 'generic' and 'reasonable' candidate but he can't uncouple himself  from the party he leads which is anything BUT generic OR reasonable.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

Speaking as an Ohioan, I can say that Rob Portman is a typical Koch apparatchik.

He's made the state a worse place for most of the people who live here.

~

grape_crush
grape_crush

Actually, I'm more interested in who Mitt was considering asking to the Cranbrook prom.

Which is to say, not interested in this Veepstakes speculation in the slightest, as it's a waste of my time and a substitution for a more thorough examination of Romney and his policy proposals...the latter of which admittedly can't effectively be done, considering how intentionally vague Romney has been as to how he plans to accomplish his goals were he to gain the Oval Office.

happydayfortennis
happydayfortennis

He's going to create jobs and fix the economy and ensure a better future for all Americans and he's definitely not Obama - I mean, how much more specific can you get? 

source: Mitt Romney's hilariously vague tweets