A majority of respondents to a Daily Herald survey of Illinois delegates to the Republican National Convention say Florida Sen. Marco Rubio should be Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman was a distant second, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan tying for third.
The analysis of the 49 responses comes as former Vice President Dick Cheney called the selection of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential running mate in 2008 a mistake, advising Romney to place job qualifications over electoral considerations with a particular demographic group.
The survey was sent to the state's 54 directly elected GOP delegates and its 54 alternates, as well as the 12 delegates and 12 alternates elected at the state party's convention in June.
Of the responses, 42.9 percent preferred Rubio. Another 12.2 percent selected Portman. Christie and Ryan received 10 percent of votes, respectively. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was fifth, with 8.2 percent of votes.
State Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst, a delegate, called each of the potential picks "outstanding individuals." Reboletti described Christie and Ryan as "likable and genuine people," but noted he feels the 41-year-old Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, "will be the choice because he can help carry Florida, reach out to the Latino community and court the younger vote. His story and upbringing are compelling."
But delegate Bill Cadigan, of Winnetka, says he's hoping for Chris Christie, because he thinks the boisterous governor "offers a personality contrast to Mitt Romney while embodying the fiscal conservative principles."
Steve Kim, 10th District Romney delegate from Northbrook, said he's curious to see what Romney does, adding that the question has been lobbed back and forth in most of his casual political discussions in recent weeks.
"That is the biggest topic of the political season," said Kim, the GOP nominee for Illinois attorney general two years ago.
Kim says he doesn't necessarily have a favorite pick and would be happy with any of the choices that have been mentioned as front-runners.
Naming a candidate early, Cadigan says, could be beneficial since "you have another member of the ticket out there campaigning and raising funds and communicating with voters."
Still, he said, "this race is going to be decided after Labor Day."
And though many Republicans can't stop talking about what Romney might do in the weeks before the GOP convention Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla., Kim says he's unsure voters will pay much mind to the No. 2 when they go to the polls in November.
"I think people pick the president," he said.
How Romney makes his decision has generated almost as much talk as the speculation about the nominee.
Speaking to ABC News in his first interview since undergoing a heart transplant in March, Cheney said Romney should learn from McCain's vice presidential selection process.
Romney was one of those being considered for the post in 2008, but McCain went with Palin, a surprise pick.
"I like Gov. Palin. I've met her. I know her," Cheney remarked over the weekend. "But based on her background, she had only been governor for, what, two years? I don't think she passed that test of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.
"The test to get on that small list has to be, 'Is this person capable of being president of the United States?'"
This time around, delegate Dan Venturi of Lake Villa said he saw "a lot of good candidates."
Like Cheney, Venturi said he hoped Romney "doesn't pull someone out of left field."
• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.