Richard Morris, an insurance agent in Chandler, Ariz., had considered the Palin choice "a mistake." Ryan, on the other hand, "is a great pick," said Morris, 45. "It's one of those picks ... where you don't have to worry about: What are they going to say? Are they going to screw something up? You've got a guy who can really stand on his own."
"Conservatives are going to love it," said Kelly Jordan, 49, who works in construction and also lives in Chandler. "This is exactly what we need. We want the whole thing to be about the economy, and this is the guy who wants to rein it in."
Some Republicans may have felt "lukewarm about Romney," Jordan said. "Putting Ryan in there gives them that extra incentive and motivation."
Rigler, for one, felt an extra jolt of confidence following the announcement. "This really puts a good spin on things," said the 52-year-old who heads a small business alliance in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert. "I think the Republicans who might have had a little bit of qualms about what they were going to do ... now they're going to go: 'Yes! This could be good.'
"I'm a supporter, but I didn't know if (Romney) could really pull it off with some of the undecideds."
It matters little to her what the experts, or history, tell us about the impact — or lack thereof — of a running mate. In this election, she said, "I really think it is game-changer."
Of course only time, and votes, will tell.
Pauline Arrillaga, a Phoenix-based national writer for The Associated Press, can be reached at features(at)ap.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE _ Another story in the occasional series "American Pulse," plumbing deeper currents in American politics in this election year.