Midwest Liberal


Some Brief Thoughts on Paul Ryan


1. Ryan is the anti-Palin. A policy wonk, he will sound intelligent and informed when he talks, especially about budget matters. He also will be measured and thoughtful in his tone. Sarah Palin he ain’t.

2. He will reinforce Romney’s standing with the conservatives in the party, although many will still prefer Ryan to Romney. 

3. He will likely appeal to that small segment of supposedly undecided voters who believe the core way to fix America’s budget crisis is radical entitlements reform and substantial tax cuts to so-called “job creators.” But as such people were virtually guaranteed to vote for Romney anyway, this appeal is likely to be of little electoral consequence.

4. He will likely increase the alienation from Mitt Romney of that segment of supposedly undecided voters who oppose the idea that radical entitlements reform and tax cuts for so-called “job creators”  are the answer to America’s budget woes. But as they weren’t really going to vote for Romney anyway, this “alienation” is of no political consequence.

5. Given that the number of people in categories 3 and 4 are actually quite small, Ryan’s choice is likely to have no positive effect on Romney’s electoral chances. However, he will likely not be a drag on the ticket like Sarah Palin was. In other words, Ryan’s selection will likely change nothing about the election in the long run.

6. I have eaten lunch in a Wendy’s in Janesville, WI, along I-39, and it is as ugly and besotted a stretch of road as every other stretch just like it through every other town in America. Plus there was a wreck and a traffic jam. I can only assume my experience was not typical.

A few problems with the points made in 3 and 4. I think it will have an impact at the electoral level- namely in Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona.

In Wisconsin Ryan has a 46% unfavorable rating overall versus a 41% favorable rating. He polls poorly with women, union members, and is a wash with independents. It will also give Wisconsin Dems something to get fired up about after the shellacking Scott Walker gave them.

Romney has actually been catching up to Obama in Florida, but that’s going to be hurt by this pick in a couple of different ways. His gains have mostly been because of independents seeing him more favorably, but that could easily change with Ryan as part of the ticket. Also, about 20% of Florida’s population is elderly, who oppose his Medicare plan by huge margins. Elderly people also show up to vote more consistently than any other demographic and will definitely make a difference. By contrast, he could have picked Marco Rubio who is popular with conservatives nationwide, has good approval ratings in Florida, and could help him with Hispanic voters because of his relatively moderate stance on the DREAM act.

Arizona, while leaning Romney by about 9 points, could start trending more towards Obama for the above reasons . Ryan just isn’t popular with elderly or Hispanic voters which make up a good portion of the population. 

Rubio would have been the better choice for Romney, but I’m not complaining too much.