Just the ticket?
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell possesses many fine qualities which would make him an outstanding vice-presidential candidate, and doubtless, an outstanding vice-president too as a glance at his resume will show. A good speaker, chosen by the GOP to answer President Obama's State of the Union address, a businessman, a veteran, and a family man.
There are of course other potential candidates who also have many striking qualities, although few would have been elected with 59% of the vote. What McDonnell possesses, in a campaign allied to Palin, apart from bringing the traditional North/South ticket balance, and the new female/male balance, is the capacity to win the election by his being from what appears to be the key state whose winning or losing will decide who is to be the next president.
The map below shows a very tight election result if everything goes right for the GOP. Initially I considered that Florida would be the key state, and perhaps Rubio, or West would be the deal breaker as vice-president. However, even with the Republican Governor being unpopular at the moment, the polls in Florida have moved markedly against President Obama.
Further, with the little noticed change voter ID laws and in the felon voting law, one benefit to the GOP of the 2010 sweep, as is the GOP winning the Ohio Governorship, which can only assist winning that rust belt state, Florida, at this point in time, looks a lock. Certainly McDonnell, as a Southerner would only add to the GOP's chances of winning Florida as well.
If then Florida is considered safe, then Virginia, which, like Florida was a key win for Obama, becomes absolutely crucial. If it is lost then the Dem's electoral college votes go up to 279 and they can afford to lose Colorado and still win with 270.
On every count a Palin/McDonnell ticket looks the GOP's best bet in the Electoral College which, as Bush showed in 2000 is the only result that counts.