VP Pawlenty Meter: McCain "made up his mind a year ago" to pick T-Paw

Will Governor Tim Pawlenty become our nation's next vice president? It's hard to keep track of all the many factors at play. Each week, the VP Pawlenty Meter (TM) provides an odds sheet to ensure you make your best bet.

When last we surveyed the crowded field of VP wannabes, the nomination seemed to be slipping away from T-Paw. After all, McCain was saying there were as many as 20 potential running mates on his mind, and Condi Rice was loudly squawking that she wants the job.

But this week brought an interview with Atlantic odds-makers Marc Ambinder, helpfully transcribed by Minnesota Monitor, in which Ambinder suggests the decision to go with T-Paw may have been made a year ago:

I think there's a fair chance that John McCain picks Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who is a fabulous surrogate for him. Someone that McCain has grown to really like, brings a lot to the ticket in many ways. And someone who people close to McCain say, quite frankly, he had settled on a year ago, and that's one of the main reasons why I bring up the name, not because of any of the tangential or the political factors. It's just that people close to McCain say that McCain had pretty much made up his mind a year ago. And there's nothing so far as I can tell that would have changed McCain's mind.

A lot has happened in that year, and unlike Ambinder, I'm not so sure it isn't enough to change McCain's mind. I'm less thinking of the 35W bridge collapse here and more thinking of the emergence of the "change" narrative and the historical nature of the Democratic ticket. I think this weighs strongly against going with a "traditional" VP candidate like Pawlenty. That said, Ambinder seems to have better sources than us, so we're officially raising the Pawlenty VP Meter to "Yellow," meaning an "elevated" risk of a Pawlenty vice presidency.