A Hispanic candidate is potentially a major plus, perhaps the deciding factor, to any GOP lineup as the 2016 vice-presidential candidate,and Electoral College ramifications seemingly dictate that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is a superior plus to both New Mexico's Governor Susana Martinez and Florida's Senator Marco Rubio in that role.
In Senator Rubio's case there might seem to be a contradiction. It is an absolute that if the exit polls show (correctly unlike 2004) that Florida will be won by the Democratic party presidential candidate by about 9 p.m. on election night Republicans could turn off their TV's as the night will not turn out well for them-at least on the presidential level. Thus logic would seem to dictate that Senator Rubio would be the GOP's best hope to keep the ticket alive further into the evening.
That would appear to be the case in point of fact, Mitt Romney lost Florida by the narrowest of margins, the closest in the country, just 0.88% (down from 2.82 in 2008). It would take just a small swing to flip it to the GOP in 2016 and an Hispanic VP candidate, particularly of Cuban descent could well provide the required margin.
Given the close battle in Florida and President Obama's ability to increase the support in vital Ohio by 4% from Blacks that he received in 2008 it was perhaps surprising that this support among Black voters in Florida dropped a point from 96% to 95%.
What appears to have won the state for President Obama was the,again perhaps even more surprising, shift of Hispanic voters from 57% in 2008 to 60% for Obama in 2012. As can be clearly seen winning back those voters to the GOP is vital, and clearly an Hispanic of Cuban descent would surely have an advantage in encompassing that challenge.
The problem for the GOP is that winning Florida is only the start of a path to the required 270 Electoral College votes, and the path is long, tortuous and extremely narrow. Presuming North Carolina has returned to the GOP's fold, and the narrow 2012 loss in Ohio is overcome the major stumbling block is the vital 13 votes of Virginia.
Once considered safe in the bosom of the "solid south" Virginia has seen an influx of Democratic voters into the northern region of the state,
So substantial has this influx been that Virginia has been solid blue for the last two elections.
President G.W. Bush won Virginia by an 8.2 margin in 2004, in a massive reversal then Senator Obama won it by a 6.3 margin-52.63 to 46.33 in 2008 and held it comfortably by a 3.88 margin in 2012.It would be difficult to see how an Hispanic vice-presidential candidate for the GOP could have any material influence on the apparently substantial shifting demographics of Virginia or Iowa, another vital state for the GOP.
It is in the Rockies and Southwest that having a Hispanic candidate on the ticket becomes the vital factor if the key Eastern states and Iowa fall to the GOP (Iowa is not absolutely vital but losing it makes winning "pulling an inside straight" as James Carville stated was what John Kerry needed in almost exactly the same situation in 2004)
A study of the Electoral College map shows that to get at or above the required 270 votes some combination of any two of Colorado/New Mexico/Nevada must be won. The question then becomes who would be the best VP choice from Sandoval,Martinez or Rubio to encompass this?
Both Sandoval and Martinez won their 2014 reelection to their respective governorship's handily. Martinez by a substantial margin and Governor Sandoval by a massive margin (with 70% of the vote) so the are both obviously very popular in their home states.The fact of being successful Governors at a time when the public is perhaps looking for just that experience instead of senators who have had no executive management record can be a plus above and beyond their Hispanic heritage as well.
However it is the challenge in their home states to overcome the Democrat's presidential voting history that appears to give the nod to Governor Sandoval over Governor Martinez and to relegate Senator Rubio to third in consideration.
New Mexico is particularly challenging. In 2008 the state went for Obama over McCain by a massive 15.12 points and even with the swing back to the GOP nationwide in 2012 the margin over Romney was still in double digits at 10.15
Nevada was not so extreme giving Obama a 12.15 margin in 2008 and a 2012 margin of 6.68 which brings the state into the toss-up category.
The logic of the situation then is quite simple. yes Rubio might bring in more Hispanic votes in his own state of Florida but the amount required of Sandoval is relatively small. On the other hand Sandoval, with his immense popularity in Nevada would surely be a better bet to win Nevada (and bring in Colorado) than Rubio or Martinez.
Again, without Florida the GOP is doomed in 2016-with Florida but without either Nevada or New Mexico it is also doomed. All things being equal having a Hispanic on the GOP ticket appears to be the GOP's best hope, and Governor Sandoval (who has the backing of the Adelson/Romney and Nevada state forces) appears to be the best Hispanic choice. At the very least, with Whites expected to become a minority in the not to distant future with the Hispanic population doublingthat of Blacks it is good politics.