By Teresa Welsh |
Old-line conservatives as well as Tea Party leaders from around the country may love Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as the Republican nominee for vice president, but what about the voters Romney needs to win over to take the White House?
In the last two presidential elections, the voting choices of women and Latinos told the story for the Republican candidates. Democrats have a built-in advantage with both of these groups, but President George W. Bush was able to narrow the gap with women to lose them by only three points. On the other hand, John McCain lost women by 13 percentage points and lost the election. Similarly, Bush won over 40 percent of Latino voters in his re-election victory while McCain pulled only 31 percent in his loss to President Barack Obama.
Choosing Paul Ryan will do very little to help Mitt Romney in these key voting blocs where Romney is struggling. Women and Latinos care about the economy and jobs when they go to vote just like everyone else, but abortion and immigration reform are threshold trust questions for many of these voters, much the way support for gun rights are for many rural voters. If a politician fails to pass muster on these issues, many people won't hear anything else he or she has to say.
On reproductive choice, Paul Ryan has proven to be as far right as any politician. He calls himself pro-life, voted against Planned Parenthood and other family planning funding, and co-sponsored a bill to establish personhood for fetuses that could make abortion punishable the same as murder.
While Ryan says he is for comprehensive immigration reform, he voted against the DREAM Act to allow young people brought to America illegally by their parents to remain in the United States legally if they pursued higher education or joined the military. Univision found in a January 2012 poll that 90 percent of Latinos support the DREAM Act.
Ryan and the Republican right wing have been pushing fiscal austerity for the last four years and now they want to take this case to the electorate with empirically proven unpopular proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher program and cut more education and infrastructure spending. Women and Latinos who have kept a distinct distance from Mitt Romney will surely wonder how Ryan's agenda benefits them. The answer is that it doesn't, and Mitt Romney will pay the price.
About Jamal Simmons Principal at The Raben Group
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist and Political Analyst
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College