My friend (and former editor) David Frum recently wrote an article which stated that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney should pick Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as his running mate rather than Florida Senator Marco Rubio, notwithstanding a lot of political commentary supporting Rubio. While it is true that the GOP has problems with getting support from Latino voters, Frum argues that picking Rubio won't be very helpful to the Republican Party on that front. Frum says that Latino voters support the Democratic Party because it is the party of economic liberalism and it is a mistake to think that Latino voters will switch their ideological allegiances because the GOP's vice-presidential nominee is a Latino, particularly given that the biggest bloc of Latino Democratic voters are Mexican-American and Rubio is Cuban-American.
Instead, Frum suggests that the GOP should aim at another group that leans Democratic but might be pulled towards the GOP -- Asian American voters. As he puts it:
And to the extent that symbolic politics can sway votes, Republicans should be looking to groups more receptive to the core Republican message than Mexican-Americans are likely to be. The Asian-American population is also growing fast, and many Asian groups -- Vietnamese-Americans and Indian-Americans to name only two -- are gaining their success in small business. They are natural targets for Republican recruitment... or these voters, inclusion does matter. Symbols of inclusion can work.
I think Frum is on to something here and not just on the issue of moving particular Democratic-leaning ethnic groups towards the Republican Party in the 2012 election. While Jindal may help the Republican Party among Asian American voters (Jindal's parents emigrated from India), I think he would also help with gaining support among highly-educated voters, which is another group that the GOP has been having problems with. As Michael Medved points out, university graduates are an increasing portion of the electorate and as a group they have been moving towards the Democrats in recent years.
The Republican Party over recent years has been developing a reputation for anti-intellectualism that has damaged its brand among highly educated voters. A Romney-Jindal ticket could help move such voters to the GOP column. Jindal is a graduate of Brown University and a Rhodes Scholar. It would be difficult to tag him and Mitt Romney (who holds not one but two degrees from Harvard) as being people who don't appreciate the importance of higher education and intellectual values to the same degree that, for example, it would be relatively easy to tag candidates like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum as such.
If Romney wants to encourage highly-educated voters to support him, picking Bobby Jindal as his running mate would be a good move. It would be a move that would signal that the GOP (at least in Mitt Romney's White House) isn't hostile to those who value and aspire to academic success. A Romney-Jindal ticket would be a formidable one and as such Romney should strongly consider Jindal as his running mate, even if conventional wisdom suggests other choices.