Ed Kilgore thinks that Romney may be forced to choose a “very conservative” running mate to placate disaffected Republicans:
Sarah Palin’s suggestion this week that Allen West, the truly far-right congressman from Florida, would make Mitt a fine running-mate sounds ludicrous—but it may also signal a tough bargaining position by leaders of the right. After all, in similar circumstances in 2008, John McCain gave them Palin herself [bold mine-DL]. This year, with conservatives feeling more optimistic than they did four years ago, and more in control of the party, they’ll hardly want to settle for less.
This is mistaken in two ways. First, conservatives aren’t “more in control of the party” than they were four years ago. Their control is more or less about the same as it was in 2008. “Very conservative” Republicans have discovered once again that they have very little control over who wins the nomination. For her part, the Sarah Palin McCain selected in the summer of 2008 was not the aggressive bomb-throwing partisan that she turned into as a VP candidate. Before the campaign, she was a quasi-populist whose main achievement as governor was imposing higher taxes on oil company profits. At the time she was selected, she was perceived to be a “reform” governor who complemented McCain’s so-called “maverick” political persona. She became the base-pleasing demagogue partly to compensate for the fact that she did not have a record that “very conservative” Republicans would like and to generate enthusiasm for a ticket that was seriously lacking it. She relied on conservative identity politics during the campaign to make up for her lack of a conservative policy record.
If Romney selected a Palin-like figure, that would mean that he had picked someone relatively obscure with a political reputation similar to his own. That rules out all of the names that are usually mentioned as possible VP nominees. When Gov. Martinez is mentioned as a possible VP nominee, she is sometimes compared to Palin as a little-known first-term woman governor from a small state, but that is where the similarities end. If Romney selected Martinez, for example, he would already be selecting someone who was demonstrably well to the right of where Palin was when she was chosen.