POSTED: Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 5:30am
UPDATED: Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 5:34am
LSU MEDIA RELATIONS — As the 2012 race toward the White House begins to heat up, speculation about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s potential vice-presidential selection has run rampant. A recent survey conducted by LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, or PPRL, supported by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and housed within the Manship School of Mass Communication, offers some insight and guidance into what type of candidate would net Romney the biggest gains with voters. He yielded the largest advantage when paired with a moderate running mate rather than all other options.
“In selecting a vice-president, Mitt Romney faces an interesting dilemma – pick a religious conservative to mobilize his Republican base or pick a moderate to appeal to independent and potential crossover voters,” said Kirby Goidel, PPRL director. “Our data show pretty convincingly that Romney’s biggest advantage comes by appealing to the middle. We should note the effects are primarily at the margins but - in what looks to be a very close election -- the margins will matter.”
Thirteen percent of registered voters said they would be more likely to support Mitt Romney if he picked a moderate vice president, while 8.3 percent said they would be less likely to support Romney with a moderate running mate. The net gain for Romney for selecting a moderate vice president would be five points. Even among Republican voters, Romney would gain more by nominating a moderate as vice president. Fifteen percent of Republican voters said they would be more likely to support Romney if he ran with a moderate compared to 9 percent who said they would be less likely to support Romney if he ran with a moderate running mate.
The survey showed that Romney netted the biggest loss when paired with a religious conservative. Eight percent of registered voters said they would be more likely to support Romney were he to select a religious conservative as his vice presidential pick while 19.5 percent said they would be less likely to support his campaign under this particular scenario. The net loss to Romney for picking a religious conservative would be 11.4 percentage points.
The damage among independent voters under this scenario would be far more substantial. A total of 10.9 percent of independent voters said they would be more likely to support Romney if he ran with a religious conservative, while 17.8 percent said they would be less likely to support Romney with religious conservative as vice president. The net loss to Romney would be 6.9 points.
Interestingly, nominating a Hispanic or racial minority or a woman appeared to make very little difference in Romney’s overall support. Romney would actually lose the most support among Democratic voters by picking a woman or minority as vice president, presumably because they would perceive such a move as political pandering. Among Republicans, Romney would gain 3.3 percentage points by nominating a racial minority and would gain 5 points by nominating a woman. Among independents, the gains would be 1.1 points for a racial minority and 2.2 points for a woman.
To see the full report and details about the survey, visit http://www.survey.lsu.edu/.