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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

What’s a good way to generate a lot of buzz? Announce your Vice Presidential selection at an unorthodox time. But this also carries a lot of opportunity cost: this is a card that each candidate gets to play only once.

It wouldn’t totally shock me if McCain did announce his Vice Presidential nominee this week — but if so, it tells you what a huge slam dunk Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe has been. If McCain had the insight to name his VP just before Obama took off for Iraq, that might have been one thing, but to do it during or immediately afterward creates the perception that you’re following rather than leading the media cycle. Moreoever, it denies McCain the advantage of picking his VP last and being able to react to Obama’s selection, something which he’d inherently seem to have since the GOP holds its convention later.

But what’s a good way to generate a little buzz at no cost at all? Tell Bob Novak that you’re thinking about announcing your VP choice — and then don’t actually do it. That is the more likely scenario here.

Either way, it is a reminder of the state of zugzwang that McCain campaign finds itself in. They have to make a move to react to Obama’s Iraq trip — but each plausible move weakens their position.

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