Rick Santorum Makes No Sense as Romney's VP

Rick Santorum is actually less popular than Mitt Romney--even among Republicans

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Scott Galupo had a good post this morning looking at the odds of Mitt Romney tapping Rick Santorum for the vice presidential spot on the ticket. I more or less agree with Scott’s reasoning, but think there’s another very powerful reason why a Romney-Santorum ticket is unlikely: Romney won’t want to select another unpopular politician as his running mate.

[Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP presidential race.]

I should say up front that I am in the camp which believes that the vice presidential nominee will make virtually no difference in November, unless Romney taps someone absolutely disastrous. Nevertheless the politics of it will be debated and analyzed ad nauseum until the decision is made, so here’s my contribution to the Beltway parlor game.

The logic behind having Santorum on the ticket usually follows one of two tracks. One is the scenario Scott offered, where the former Pennsylvania senator has enough delegates to block Romney from a first ballot nod. The other is the (very plausible) presumption that, aware he’s the nomination of a party that holds no great affection for him, Romney nominates someone conservatives do love so as to fire them up for the election. Santorum becomes a human olive branch to the party’s right wing.

[See editorial cartoons about Santorum.]

But here’s the problem: According to the latest poll released yesterday by the Pew Research Center, Rick Santorum is actually a less popular figure than Romney, both within the GOP and nationally. Pew found that Romney is viewed favorably by 29 percent of Americans, while Santorum is viewed favorably by only 27 percent of Americans. While 58 percent of Republicans view Romney favorably, only 53 percent of them like Santorum. And independents really don’t like Santorum: 23 percent have a positive view of him, which lags behind the 27 percent who think well of Romney. (For the record, 53 percent of independents like Obama.) In a head to head matchup, Romney leads Santorum 31-25 among conservatives (a reverse of February, when Santorum led 36-25 on the right).

When Romney finally clinches the nomination he will probably tap a Santorum-like figure to make the party’s base happy. But he and his Super PAC allies have done their work too well, bringing down Santorum’s positives over the last several weeks.

Instead they’re more likely to look for someone who appeals to the right but hasn’t been defined nationally yet, like Sen. Marco Rubio or Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

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