Pros and Cons: Jim Webb as Obama’s Running Mate

ImageThere has been some talk among Democrats that Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) might be the ideal choice as a running mate for Barack Obama, so in this edition of pros and cons we look at what Jim Webb might bring to a ticket with Obama.

Resume : Jim Webb is currently the junior senator from Virginia. He won his seat by defeating incumbent George Allen by less than half of a percentage point in November 2006. Prior to being elected to the Senate, Webb was a Republican who served in the Reagan administration in the 1980s first as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs then as Secretary of the Navy. Webb’s area of specialization is primarily military issues. In the Senate, he currently serves on the Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Committee on Armed Services, Joint Economic Committee.

Pros to Picking Webb: Webb is from a swing state in Virginia, that might be critical in the November election if Obama can’t improve his performance in states like Ohio and Florida. Webb would provide the white, male, Southern influence that could balance out the ticket. Webb is also a decorated Vietnam vet who would help negate much of the questions about Obama’s experience with military issues.

Cons to Picking Webb: Webb has zero executive experience, and has spent even less time in the Senate than Obama. He also isn’t very popular in the state of Virginia. An April Survey USA poll showed Webb with only a 47% approval rating. In contrast, when former Gov., and current Senate candidate, Mark Warner left office in 2006 he had an 80% approval rating, and current Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine has a 57% approval rating.

Webb only has a 45% approval rating with white voters and 42% approval rating with Hispanic voters. In an election likely to be dominated by the economy, Webb’s military expertise might not be very useful to Obama.

Odds of Obama Selecting Webb: I wouldn’t completely rule it out, but Jim Webb, much like John Kerry in 2004, looks much better on paper than he might in reality. Some seem to forget that Webb won his Senate seat because George Allen gave it away, and even then he only won by four tenths of a point.

Webb is much more conservative than Obama on social policy, and he wouldn’t bring much to the ticket outside of his military credibility. It also doesn’t help Webb’s case that he has not endorsed Obama. If Obama does look to the state of Virginia for his running mate, he might be better served to take a look at Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

The Choice-O-Meters Says: (1 O = No Chance – 10 Os = Sure Thing)
OO (2 Os out of 10 for Jim Webb)

Survey USA Webb Approval Ratings

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