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Reports suggest Trump could announce VP pick during RNC convention: Here are the Absolute Best Vice-Presidential Options for Trump

Democratic anxiety has reached gigantic proportions following President Joe Biden's disastrous debate performance. But Donald Trump still faces a deeply polarized electorate with only a small lead in key polls in swing states. His track record indicates that he is unable to win more than 50% of the popular vote; At its highest in 2020, it gained just 46.8 percent.

Choosing the right vice presidential candidate could strengthen some of his weaknesses – notably among several key demographic and political groups of voters. Trump understands this dynamic well. He chose Mike Pence in 2016 in part to reassure evangelical Christians that the thrice-married New Yorker would be their ally.

Today, Trump's shortlist for vice president offers a glimpse into the trait he values ​​above all else — loyalty — but also into the campaign's thinking about his strengths and weaknesses within Readership.

Here's a clear look at some of Trump's weaknesses and how his VP pick could help him. It includes names on its public list as well as a few others that won't disappear from the conversation — or that it would at least be smart to consider.

Biden didn't oust Trump from the White House in 2020 by delivering results in big cities. He even won by huge margins in the suburbs, especially in the swing states that decided the outcome. The suburbs are expected to garner more than half the vote again in November and will remain a weak point for Trump. Recent national polls show that while Biden's popularity is slightly lower in the suburbs, negative perceptions of Trump are greater.

The Suburbs

Several candidates can make the difference.

Nikki Haley, herself a former suburban legislator before becoming governor and UN ambassador, is an obvious choice. Let's look at his results against Trump earlier this year in the Republican primary campaign. In Pennsylvania, for example, her best performances were in the densely populated suburbs surrounding Philadelphia, the same suburbs that buried Trump in 2020. And she, more than anyone, could be a standard-bearer for the Republican Party before Trump and the suburbs. voters who once flocked to vote. He she. The only problem with this choice is that there is no evidence indicating his candidacy. Trump is not the type to exalt an opponent who brutalized him and refused to fuck in the ring.

Next, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will likely have the best argument. Its political profile is adapted to increasingly diverse suburbs. Besides the generational contrast he can bring to Trump (he is almost two decades younger), he knows the terrain better than any other vice-presidential candidate. He has a proven track record in the suburbs, not only in his home state, but also during his failed 2016 presidential primary campaign — and no other shortlist can say the same. Other Republicans have noted Rubio's appeal in the suburbs; During the 2018 midterm elections, Rubio was recruited to campaign for Republican Party candidates in places as diverse as Atlanta, Chicago and suburban Nashville.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is another whose political identity is rooted in his success in the suburbs. The Trump era has been marked by the erosion of the Republican Party in the suburbs, but Youngkin managed to defy that trend by capturing both moderate suburbanites and MAGA supporters in his controversial 2021 move to win a state that Biden won by 10 points on the year. Before. But his star has since dimmed after a series of political blows, none more dispiriting than his failed effort to stage a takeover of the Virginia Legislature last year. His uneasy coexistence with Trump partly explains why he is not mentioned on many vice presidential shortlists.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, on the other hand, seems to be a finalist and his profile could appeal to suburbanites. He is not a culture warrior, and his moderate style, knowledge of the global economy, and consistency on the campaign trail could limit Trump in wealthier, more educated constituencies where Trump has struggled in 2020. There is no wing of the party he hates. , or any region of the country where it seems to be out of place. Meanwhile, Burgum's experience as a two-term small-state governor is geared more toward small towns and rural America. He also signed one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, which would be unacceptable to many suburban women.

Then there's Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who displays traditional conservative sentiments, has served in the Capitol since 2013 and is an Army veteran. He's also tough on immigration and crime, two issues Trump is keen to emphasize and which could play an important role in Republican-leaning suburbs, where GOP votes have wavered in recent years.

Women Voters

The gender gap that Trump faced in 2016 and 2020 remains a serious obstacle. He faces additional charges this year, including jury verdicts that found him liable for sexual assault and defamation in the lawsuits filed by writer E.J. Gene Carroll, and his formation of the conservative majority to the Supreme Court which struck down the constitutional right to abortion. . The former president's unpopularity among women remains stubbornly high, with 58 percent of women having a very negative view of Trump, according to the latest Fox News poll. Polls show Biden still holds a comfortable lead among women.

Choosing a woman to be his deputy cannot erase this history nor erase this inability. Obviously, voters don't always vote for female candidates, but it can make a difference in elections that seem remarkably close.

The problem is that there is no reason to believe that a viable candidate capable of moving voters is among the finalists. Trump publicly excluded Nikki Haley, a veteran national campaigner who won two statewide elections, in a social media post in May.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik have garnered attention repeatedly, but there isn't much evidence to suggest either will have a particular attraction for women.

Noem, who recently said Trump would benefit from having a woman as his running mate, would likely be disqualified anyway due to recent revelations that she killed his dog. Even if she is not excluded, her combative style does not distinguish her from Trump.

Stefanik, the only woman on the press shortlist, faces a similar problem. Describing yourself as a “super MAGA” is unlikely to attract votes from female voters skeptical of Trump. On abortion, both have called for more restrictive positions than Trump himself.

‘Double Haters’

In an election where nearly a fifth of voters are dissatisfied with both candidates from the two major parties, a vice presidential candidate who appeals to this group – the so-called double haters – can be a major asset.

This is not a homogeneous group. In the seven battleground states, these voters are more likely to be younger, identify as independent and split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, according to the Swing State Project, an investigative research collaboration between the Cook Political Report and two pollsters, BSG. and GS Strategy Group. These voters strongly disapprove of Biden's economic performance and are particularly troubled by Trump's temper and legal troubles.

Who could this type of voter attract? Someone with an independent streak and a sustained track record of appealing to both candidates.

This narrows the field of prospects to just one – Nikki Haley.

She ripped Biden during the primary campaign while issuing sharp criticism of Trump's fitness for office. Almost every other Republican running is probably too pro-Trump to have much appeal with these voters.

Non-White Voters

Biden's vulnerability to black and Hispanic voters this year, particularly men, coincides with a time when the number of Republican vice presidential candidates of color is greater than ever. Trump's choice of a non-white vice presidential nominee offers the promise of serious change within the Democratic coalition, as a few percentage points in the right places could mean the difference between victory and defeat. defeat.

Among the top African-American candidates, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds and former HUD Secretary Ben Carson are the most frequently mentioned.

There's just one problem: None of them have a convincing record of winning over black voters. Scott may have great appeal to evangelical voters, but that doesn't worry Trump. A super PAC allied with Scott launched a well-funded initiative to educate black voters, but in his home state, Scott is steadily losing a majority of the state's nine majority-black counties.

Donalds and Carson face similar challenges. Donald's voting record in the Republican-majority congressional district based in southwest Florida proves he can win over GOP voters — only 5 percent of the population is black. Carson may have been a hero to many African Americans, but that was before his 2016 run for president — and before his harsh criticism of President Barack Obama.

It makes more sense that Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, would run for vice president. Even if the Latino voters Trump needs in the Southwest (and states like North Carolina and Georgia) aren't Cuban Americans, Rubio's Spanish-speaking skills should help him reach those public, highlighting the historical dimension that it would bring to the project.

‘Burn It Down’ Voters

Unlike the double haters, who hold largely mainstream political views, there is also a growing group of disaffected voters with a more extreme, even conspiratorial, mindset.

Many of them are turning to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an independent candidate who could seriously play a spoilsport role in 2024. And with a base made up of voters still enthusiastic about coronavirus lockdowns , there is an argument that Kennedy poses a challenge. A bigger threat to Trump than to Biden.

If true, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance could have increased his stock as a vice presidential candidate.

Of all the serious contenders for the vice presidency, Vance has adopted the “burn it” philosophy of the populist new right. His long-standing opposition to vaccination and mask mandates and his persistent criticism of Covid restrictions will resonate with those curious about Robert Kennedy. Their lack of political experience – Vance is less than two years into his first term in the Senate – would not be a major problem since their beliefs are characterized by a deep distrust of institutions and the political establishment.

Swing States

Biden ousted Trump from the White House by flipping five swing states in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. So the key question for any potential Trump running mate is: Which of these states can he help win back? Will they help hold North Carolina in November? Can they help you choose Nevada?

Since none of the candidates on the shortlist are from a battleground state, the Trump campaign can only speculate. But some suitors could give him a boost.

J.D. Vance's populist message and his experience winning a Senate seat in the Rust Belt give him a strong footing in the politics of the industrial Midwest, which includes Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Marco Rubio could be particularly useful in Nevada, where he spent part of his childhood, or in Arizona, especially as Biden falters among Latino voters.

Tim Scott's highest value may be in the south; His home state shares media markets with Georgia and North Carolina, so he is no stranger to parts of those states. Glenn Youngkin is another proposing more money: Virginia shares a media market with North Carolina.

Of course, the geography of the vice-presidential candidate doesn't matter much anymore: in our polarized politics, party tribe is more important to voters than local ties. Twelve years ago, Paul Ryan couldn't hand over Wisconsin to Mitt Romney. Before that, John Edwards had failed to cede North Carolina to John Kerry.

But in a tight race, where many key states are tied, the right choice of vice president could make a crucial difference.

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