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Posted at 02:11 AM ET, 08/11/2012
Ryan: a high-risk, low-reward pick
By Jonathan Bernstein

Mitt Romney is rolling out his running mate in the morning, and all signs appear to point to Wisconsin Member of the House Paul Ryan. It’s a high-risk, low-reward pick. Mostly recapping what I’ve been saying about Veepstakes for the last few months:

Political scientists generally have found that good running mates do little to help the ticket in November beyond the possibility of adding a couple percentage points in the vice-presidential candidate’s home state. That is, Paul Ryan is a low-reward pick because all running mates are low-reward picks. Perhaps it’s a little lower than usual: as someone who only represents one congressional district, Ryan is presumably less well known and liked in his home state than typical picks who have won statewide, although since picks from the House are rare, it’s hard to really know.

However, a poor pick can hurt the ticket some nationwide, although probably the only two to really do that over the years were Sarah Palin in 2008 and Tom Eagleton in 1972. Other picks that performed poorly during the campaign – Richard Nixon in 1952, Dan Quayle in 1992, perhaps Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 – haven’t been shown, as far as I know, to have cost any significant number of votes.

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