Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina likens the assignment to "buying a ticket on the Titanic." Sens. Joni Ernst
and Bob Corker
said "No" before being asked. Rarely have so many run from the prospect of being offered such a prominent position.
In the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton's deliberations over who might be her vice president don't seem to excite very many people. The fiery Elizabeth Warren appears to be out of the running. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, if elected vice president, would be replaced in the Senate by a Republican, and Democrats don't want that. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is being promoted as the safest choice, but he is so boring on the stump that it's hard to imagine him inspiring anyone anywhere to even show up at the polls.
We would argue that "safe" is not Clinton's only option and, in fact, the choice of a calm and moderate running mate could be a terrible waste of an opportunity to expand her base of support. We've crunched the numbers -- from a June survey of 1,000 people -- and found a radical option that just might give Hillary a real boost: Mark Cuban.
Based in the Southern city of Dallas, Cuban would bring some geographical balance to Clinton's ticket. But this is probably the least important quality he would add. A true business superstar whose wealth, unlike Trump's, is readily verified, Cuban is a renowned job creator, a tech pioneer, and a public persona with deep name recognition and real credibility. He has even competed with Trump in the realm of reality TV, as a co-host of the program "Shark Tank."
Cuban's business bona fides and media experience would weaken many of Trump's advantages. He is also much more of a political outsider than the GOP's presumptive nominee, who actually ran for president in 2000, hoping to gain the Reform Party's nomination. (He withdrew just prior to the convention.) Although he is extremely pro-business, Cuban is not a political ideologue. In fact his sharpest criticisms in this election season have targeted Trump directly. He has challenged Trump's claim that he is worth $10 billion or more, and he has suggested the famed deal-maker is not really much of a negotiator.
An avid student of politics and public policy, Cuban has criticized Trump's many outbursts and questioned his grasp of the issues, suggesting that if he's elected, he would be captive to advisers. "Because of that, he's going to be a puppet president," he told CNN
. "Whoever is closest to him is going to have a whole lot more impact on this country than probably Donald will."
Although he has not formally endorsed Clinton, Cuban has defended her against critics and praised her "thought-out proposals" because they permit voters to "see where she stands." He has been open about the idea of running as her vice presidential candidate. In our independent surveys of consumer attitudes going back more than a decade, and involving tens of thousands of Americans, we can see how Cuban would help Clinton.
Although Trump scores high in what could be called a "glamor index" of traits, Cuban bests him on a host of measures that could be gathered into a category called "likeability" -- 66% were more likely to describe Cuban as "friendly," 58% more likely to say Cuban is "charming," and 58% more likely to describe Cuban as "fun."
The reality is that although liberal Democrats feel shivers of excitement contemplating a ticket that would include someone like Warren, Clinton would benefit more with a partner like Cuban. Yes, he's an unconventional pick, but he is hugely popular with the American public. Just look at the numbers: Survey respondents were 46% more likely to describe Cuban as "charming," compared with Clinton, while respondents were more than a third more likely to describe Cuban as "energetic" and "trendy" than Clinton.
But Clinton's positives vis-a-vis Cuban also point to a team of equals, with the former secretary of state besting the businessman on several traits, with respondents 58% more likely to see her as "helpful," 40% more likely to see her as "socially responsible," and 30% more likely to see her as "reliable."
All this suggests that across the board, Americans would value a Clinton/Cuban ticket extremely highly as they supplement each other's strengths, shore up weaknesses, and impress voters with their well-rounded qualities. Would Clinton have the nerve to choose him as a running mate? Well, if she wants to win over those who consider her part of a hackneyed old political establishment, then it's something she should try.