It has been one week after the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan as the vice presidential candidate on the GOP ticket, and it is now clear that adulation expressed by Democrats at the pick was premature.
Conventional thinking on the left was that the addition of Ryan would be a net negative for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney due to Ryan's budget proposals, culminating with the 2012 budget passed by the House of Representatives. Democrats wishfully stated that seniors would turn against Mitt Romney based on Congressman Ryan's plan to provide a choice on Medicare between private plans and the current fee-for-service option. In professing these predictions, by the way, Democrat supporters repeatedly fail to mention that Ryan's proposal on Medicare would not actually have any effect on anyone currently over the age of 55. They also avoided the issue that the ticket is running on the Romney plan to repeal Obamacare as a whole, not the Ryan plan.
Nevertheless, according to the left, the pick of Ryan was supposed to hurt Romney by putting states with large senior populations such as Florida into President Barack Obama's pocket. Reality has not supported the Democrats' wishful thinking.
According to polls taken since the Ryan pick was announced, the GOP ticket has gained ground in Florida, with the Rasmussen poll having Romney/Ryan on top in Florida by 2 percentage points. Moreover, according to the Real Clear Politics average, the race has become a virtual tie in Virginia, Ohio, and Iowa—all battleground states—and has tightened considerably in Wisconsin, once considered an Obama stronghold.
By putting Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes in play, the GOP ticket forces team Obama to unexpectedly spend funds in the Badger State. That would not have been a problem in 2008 when money flowed like water for the charismatic candidate Obama. However, in 2012, such a dip into campaign coffers means fewer resources spent somewhere else for the unsuccessful and underfunded President Obama.
Speaking of campaign funds, the addition of Paul Ryan has further energized GOP donors as well, with the campaign bringing in $10 million in the week since Paul Ryan has been on the ticket. This is worrisome for Obama not only because the Romney team continues to lead in fundraising but also because it is further evidence of the rallying effect Paul Ryan is having on donors and the electorate.
In 2008, then Gov. Sarah Palin unquestionably electrified and motivated the Republican base. In 2012, Ryan is not only causing the same excitement among the GOP faithful, he is also bringing policy gravitas, significant experience—14 years in Congress—and, most importantly, boosting the ticket across the electoral map.
- Read Chad Stone: Paul Ryan’s Radical Budget Vision
- Follow the Thomas Jefferson Street blog on Twitter at @TJSBlog.
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.