Romney needs a vibrant VP contender. He’s failed to demonstrate he’s really committed to free markets, and his monotone style and good looks have too often created a vanilla persona that could use a little extra flavor. 

Marco Rubio might just be that candidate. He is a darling of the Tea Party movement, a symbol of limited government for many voters. What’s more, he could have a marginal impact with Hispanic voters. 

But let’s be clear, we’re talking about the bottom of the ticket, and VP candidates rarely have a dramatic impact on voter behavior.   

It’s true Sarah Palin breathed new life into the McCain campaign, but it’s not clear that a vice presidential candidate will necessarily drive voter turnout. Individual-level factors like demographics, registration laws and education might determine turnout more than the VP candidate. And even more important than who’s on the ticket could be a voter’s own sense of value to the election process.

So a better question to ask is: Does Rubio help restore feelings of political connectedness? Does his association with the Tea Party movement help re-establish a sense of political inclusion? Does Rubio encourage feelings of civic engagement?

In the end, these are the questions the Romney campaign ought to ask.