Why Hillary Clinton Should Choose Tim Kaine as Her Running Mate

If a new poll from Rasmussen is anywhere near accurate, it appears Democrats are gluttens for punishment. The poll -- which is likely a bit skewed given the few options participants were given -- shows Senator Elizabeth Warren is by far the favorite amongst Democrats to be Hillary Clinton's running mate, with Bernie Sanders coming in a distant second.

It's not hard to see where the urge to tap Warren or Sanders comes from. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has succeeded in large part because of his strong anti-trade message, as has Sanders on the Democratic side. Choosing a firery anti-trade warrior such as Sanders or Warren would indeed patch up an area where Clinton likely feels vulnerable, and theoretically would help recruit many Sanders supporters.

But here's the problem: Neither Warren nor Sanders stand a chance against Trump on free-trade. After all, a running mate is just a running mate, and its no secret that Clinton supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and, more recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You can easily envision Trump tearing either Warren or Sanders -- both generally viewed as radical figures -- to shreds. In fact, reports indicate that free trade might not figure heavily into Trump's general elections strategy anyway -- why invite into the campaign a battle that you're likely to lose?

Additionally, running alongside a staunch leftist could damage Clinton's prospects among fringe GOP voters who are turned off by Trump, a crucial constituency in places like Virginia and Florida, states that could cement Clinton's victory in November. Virginia in particular, could be pivotal: Its high concentration of wealthy, well-educated voters could be especially turned off by a Warren- or Sanders-like figure. And if Clinton can manage to pull out a victory in Virginia, her chances look good: She could lose Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado and New Hampshire and still be victorious.

Which brings us to Tim Kaine. Apart from being relatively moderate and uncontroversial, Kaine is a popular U.S. Senator with deep ties to Virginia (he was Governor of the state and mayor of the capitol, Richmond). He could indeed help cement Clinton's standing in Virginia which, as noted above, puts her on a steady path towards the presidency. Plus, Virginia has a Democratic governor, meaning there's no risk of losing a seat in the Senate (the same is not true for Warren).

Kaine may not be the sexy, shiny-object type choice Democrats daydream about, but he is a safe, smart pick that most improves Clinton's chances at becoming president. She ought to tap him as her running-mate.