It's no secret that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a wealthy man.
If you adjust for, the former Massachusetts governor would be the third wealthiest president in history, with an estimated between $190 million and $250 million. Romney's would be just below John F. Kennedy's and George Washington's and just above Thomas Jefferson's.
[InvestingAnswers Feature: The 15 Wealthiest U.S. Presidents of All Time]
But despite Romney's immense wealth, he's certainly not the richest person to run for president. That would likely be Ross Perot, who ran in 1992 and 1996 and whose current net worth is about $3.6 billion, according to CNBC. The former governor is not even the richest from Massachusetts to run in the past 10 years. When he ran for president in 2004, Sen. John Kerry's net worth averaged $274.5 million, according to political watchdog site OpenSecrets.org.
Of course, there's no shortage of personal wealth in the current presidential race. President Barack Obama's net worth in 2011 was $6 million, according to Forbes.
So, does wealth matter in this presidential election when it comes to votes? In short, maybe a little.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 75% of registered voters said Romney's $250 million net worth does not matter to them. But when it came to independents, 19% said Romney's wealth would make them less likely to vote for the candidate (about the same as the national average survey results).
Romney is expected to choose his vice presidential running mate sometime before the Republican National Convention begins on August 27 in Tampa, Fla. The question is, if the presumptive nominee does take this kind of polling data into consideration, will he choose a wealthy running mate or one with relatively modest means in a bid to pick up more independent voters? And where do the men and women projected to be on his short list fall in the spectrum of wealth?
To answer the second question, we examined the potential candidates' recent public financial disclosure documents that we found at OpenSecrets.org, which is run by the Center for Responsive Politics. For most of these politicians, the latest available disclosures were filed in 2011 and detailed their finances for the year 2010. (For others, we listed the data from the most recent year available.)
It's not possible to come up with a precise measure of the person's wealth from these documents. That's because exact dollar-amount disclosures aren't required. For example, a $300,000 home loan would be reported only as fitting in a range of $250,000 to $500,000.
Using the filings, it's possible to estimate a top and bottom of a range for most of the possible candidates' net worth. We then averaged those two numbers and presented them below. For example, if Candidate A's wealth was estimated to range from $500,000 to $1.5 million, it would be presented below as $1 million.
We used OpenSecrets.org's data, combined with our own analysis and research, and created this ranking of Romney's possible VP running mates in order of least wealthy to most wealthy.
Benchmarks for comparison: In 2010, the average net worth of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives was $5.9 million. In 2010, the average net worth of a U.S. senator was $13.2 million.
6. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
Average Wealth 2010: $379,500
Rank: 89th Wealthiest in the Senate
In a chamber filled with wealthy politicians, the relatively young senator from Florida sits with 88 fellow senators all wealthier than him (according to 2010 data). Sen. Marco Rubio's net worth -- $379,500 as of 2010 -- was less than one-sixteenth of the average representative's net worth of $5.9 million that year.
Rubio's 2011 financial disclosures also show that the 41-year-old faces many of the same money obligations as the average working-class American. His disclosures reveal that he has had a student loan since 1996 (with an outstanding balance between $100,000 and $250,000), a mortgage on a rental property (with a balance between $100,000 and $250,000), a 30-year home loan (with a balance between $250,000 and $500,000) and a 10-year home equity loan (with a balance between $100,000 and $250,000).
5. South Dakota Sen. John Thune
Average Wealth 2010: $423,000
Rank: 87th Wealthiest in the Senate
John Thune's $423,000 net worth is just slightly higher than fellow senator Rubio's. In comparing his wealth to that of his senate peers, he's no Rockefeller. Only 13 of Thune's fellow senators had smaller net worths.
Thune's 2011 financial disclosures show he plays it safe when it comes to investing. Some of the 51-year-old senator's largest investment holdings were in gold trust mutual funds (he had between $1,000 and $15,000 invested in three gold-based funds and less than $1,000 in a fourth), money funds (he had between $50,000 and $100,000 in one and $15,000 to $50,000 in another) and in a tax-free municipal bond fund (in which he had between $50,000 and $100,000 invested).
The disclosures also showed he was still paying back two mortgage loans, each with loan amounts between $100,000 and $250,000.
4. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Average Wealth 2010: $863,500
Rank: 73rd Wealthiest in the Senate
Sen. Kelly Ayotte's finances show that her net worth isn't nearly as flashy as that of her peers. In terms of wealth, she ranks No. 73 out of the 100-member senate, and her net worth is just one-fifteenth of the average senator's.
And like Rubio, Ayotte has loan obligations that look very similar to the average American.
Ayotte's 2011 financial disclosures show she has three five-year truck loans (two truck loans with balances between $10,000 and $15,000 and one truck loan with a balance between $15,000 and $50,000), a 30-year mortgage on a condo (with a balance between $100,000 and $250,000) and a 30-year mortgage on her primary residence (with a balance between $250,000 and $500,000).
3. Fmr. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Average Wealth 2010: $1.2 million
Rank Among Governors: Unknown
A review of the federal personal financial disclosure that Pawlenty filed in 2011, prior to his failed presidential bid, shows he had assets of at least $600,000 in 2010 and possibly as high as $1.8 million. Given that, the former governor has an average net worth of $1.2 million and ranks as the third wealthiest potential Romney running mate.
Pawlenty's most recent financial disclosures show that in 2010 alone, he brought in $121,260 from his governor's salary, $342,000 in royalty payments for his book "Courage To Stand" and $251,375 from speeches (he was paid an average of $22,852 per speech).
The disclosure does not list any liabilities.
2. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
Average Wealth 2010: $2.1 million
Rank: 124th Wealthiest in the House of Representatives
The GOP's young-gun budget crafter knows a thing or two about finance. Based on his 2010 finances, Congressman Paul Ryan is the 124th wealthiest in the 435-person House of Representatives. His average wealth, however, is still 64% lower than the average member in the House.
Ryan's finance skills may be a reason he seems to love investing. Rep. Ryan's 2011 financial disclosures show that he carries a well-diversified portfolio of more than 90 different investments. His largest investment holdings include his Ryan-Hutter Investment (between $250,000 and $500,000), the Fidelity ContraFund Fund (he has between $50,000 to $100,000 invested) and various other mutual funds and money market funds.
The disclosures also reveal that he has just one loan: a mortgage for his primary residence (with a balance between $250,000 and $500,000).
1. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
Average Wealth 2010: $8.8 million
Rank: 26th Wealthiest in Senate
An Ohio political veteran, Sen. Rob Portman has had a few years to build his wealth, making him the most affluent member on Romney's VP short list. Out of the 100-member senate, he ranks as having the 26th highest net worth among his peers.
With a net worth of $8.8 million in 2010, Portman's wealth is likely to be slightly above Obama's, who has a net worth of $6 million.
Despite his higher wealth rank, Portman's average net worth in 2010 was about 33% lower than the average of all senate members' net worth that year ($8.8 million vs. $13.2 million).
Portman's 2011 financial disclosures show he has a line of credit (with a balance between $500,000 and $1,000,000) and a 15-year mortgage on his primary residence (with a balance between $250,000 and $500,000).
Other Potential Vice Presidential Candidates
These potential vice presidential hopefuls were not included in the rankings above because their 2010 net worth estimates were not readily accessible from OpenSecrets.org or from other sources. Instead, we list their net worth for the latest year for which data was available and provide additional information on their finances as reported by other sources.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
Average Wealth 2006: $2.7 million
The nation's first Indian-American governor would likely rank within the top three wealthiest of Romney's VP short list if his net worth remained around the same amount ($2.7 million) as in 2006. That's the last year before Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana and thus the last for which OpenSecrets.org has financial disclosure records from Jindal.
Jindal has reportedly fared well financially since then. His 2011 governor's salary was reported to be $127,407 last year, and he made between $5,000 and $25,000 (or more) in investment income. In 2010, a book he helped write generated another $50,000 to $100,000 in income. He made a similar amount from the book's writing contract in 2009.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Fmr. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
Average Wealth 2008: $1.5 million
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's most recent financial records were released to the public back in 2008, but if she had a similar amount of wealth in 2010, she would rank within the top four wealthiest on Romney's VP shortlist.
Rice's 2008 financial disclosures display that she's an investor as well. Her portfolio included more than 20 different investments, with the largest being in her rental property in Palo Alto, Calif., (in which she had between $500,000 and $1,000,000 invested) and in a TIAA-CREF Retirement Annuity (her pension from Stanford University).
The disclosures also revealed that Rice held a 30-year mortgage on her rental property (with a balance between $250,000 and $500,000).
Like this article? Here's more from InvestingAnswers: The 5 Wealthiest Members of Congress, The 15 Wealthiest U.S. Presidents of All Time, 5 Financial Perks of Congress You Won't Believe Are Legal, The Most Powerful Group of Political Donors in America, and Congress' Favorite Dividend Stock.