Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Paul Ryan Effect

We’ve now have a couple days to think about Paul Ryan and to see the reactions all around. This is a phenomenal pick. So let’s talk about the polls and how this changes the electoral map. Also, I’m quoting a piece from the Onion that is well worth reading.

Enthusiasm: More evidence of an enthusiasm gap. Gallup now reports the Republicans are showing a +13% enthusiasm gap. They caution that it’s too early to tell anything until after the conventions, but this is enough to suggest problems for Obama. His 2008 victory resulted from a +7% enthusiasm difference in favor of Democrats and lots of independents voting for Obama – close to 60%. That +7% has now morphed into a -13% and that’s been fairly constant since 2009. I don’t see how the convention will change that.

As for independents, Zogby just put out a poll that should scare Obama greatly. According to Zogby, Romney was losing and Obama had momentum until Ryan was chosen. Now they are tied at 46% each with 8% undecided. But more importantly, Romney/Ryan leads Obama/Biden by 45% to 40% among independents. Politico has Romney leading among independents by 10%, 47% to 37%. These numbers are death for Obama, who needs about 60% of independents to offset the lack of Democratic enthusiasm. Also interesting from the Zogby poll, Ryan helped boost Romney among 18-29 year olds.

There’s also another interesting issue which has arisen in the past couple days: crowd size. Everywhere Ryan and Romney have gone, they’ve been swamped by crowds. They’ve been speaking to 10,000-15,000 people typically and turning away others. Obama has been talking to crowds in the 1,000 range. Biden just spoke to 600. This is becoming such bad PR that Obama is actually trying to claim he intended this, though half-empty auditoriums tell a different story.

Where He Helps: So where does Ryan help or hurt Romney? Here are some ideas:
Conservatives: Ryan has solidified Romney’s right flank in a matter of minutes. Romney no longer needs to worry that evangelicals will stay home or that Tea Party people will view him with suspicion.

Catholics: Ryan brings a fairly strong Catholicism to the ticket which supposedly will play well with Catholics. In effect, he should appeal to some of the same Catholics who liked Santorum.

Wisconsin: It’s not clear how much Ryan helps in Wisconsin, except that (1) the local boy almost always gets a couple points added to his score, and (2) Ryan will ignite the activists who turned out to help Scott Walker. If this happens, then the electoral map will shake up a great deal. Wisconsin is only worth 10 votes, not the 18 of Ohio, but if Romney wins Wisconsin, then he could win by also getting New Hampshire and Iowa while losing Ohio. This could be huge.

Pennsylvania: Ryan’s support among Catholics could be key to winning Pennsylvania, which is awash in Catholics and Tea Party types. And if Romney wins Pennsylvania (still difficult, but doable) then Romney wins in a landslide.

Florida: Supposedly, Ryan hurts Romney in Florida because of his Medicare plan. But polls show Ryan being popular with old folks. That would seem to put the lie to the idea that Ryan will be a drag in Florida. Where Ryan does help in Florida is the evangelical North and panhandle, and that could well be the difference because turn out will be key in this election.

Virginia: Believe it or not, a lot of people think Ryan will help Romney win Virginia because he brings a charisma that suburban moderates like, and Northern Virginia is very suburban moderate. I can’t disagree. The thing I heard most about Palin (before she imploded) was that she was the kind of woman any mother would want her son to marry. Well, Ryan strikes me as the kind of man any mother would want her daughter to marry. So if mommy politics counts, then this will help.
In His Own Words. . . Sort of: Finally, I leave you with this. It’s long, but it’s worth the read. This comes from the Onion and is presented as an editorial written by Ryan himself. I present this because it’s funny, and also because it fairly accurate about Ryan’s charisma advantage:
Admit It, I Scare The Ever-Loving Sh*t Out Of You, Don't I?

When Mitt Romney selected me as his running mate, I knew the Democratic attack dogs would come out in full force. They would say I’m a right-wing ideologue. They would say my views on entitlement programs are far too radical. They would say putting me on the ticket immediately kills Mitt Romney’s chances of becoming president because I’m a liability. But if we’re being honest with each other—if we’re able to put aside the talking points for a few minutes and say what we’re all actually thinking and feeling—I believe we can acknowledge the real truth here.

I’m young, I’m handsome, I’m smart, and I’m articulate. And that scares the ever-loving sh*t out of you. You can pretend like you have this thing in the bag, but you know good goddamn well that this race just got real interesting, real fast.

It’s okay to admit it. You’re frightened to death of me. It might actually be healthy for you to face your fears now rather than later, when Mitt and I are leading by a few points in the polls and it looks like this thing might end badly for you. Face it: I’m not some catastrophe waiting to happen, like a Sarah Palin or a Dan Quayle. On the contrary, you have the exact opposite fear. I’m a solid, competent, some might say exceptional, politician.

Did you get nervous when you read that last sentence? Is it because you know in your heart of hearts that it’s 100 percent true? Is it because, even if you strongly disagree with my beliefs on Medicare, Social Security, women’s rights, and marriage equality, you know my talent as a speaker and my well-thought-out approach to these issues—no matter how radical and convoluted you find them—might just be enough to win over independent voters?

Do you get chills just thinking about how strong my appeal actually is?

I have another question for you: How scared are you that I can convince people I’m right? Because I’m good at it. No, I’m really good at it. You see, I know how to turn up the charm and charisma without putting people off. Then I back up what I’m saying with arguments that, when they come out of my mouth, sound completely accurate and well-reasoned. And I do it with such passion that people automatically recognize me as a man with deep convictions he will stand up for, no matter what.

The American people love that sh*t. They love it.

Passion, intellect, and a magnetic personality. Pretty damn intimidating combo, if I say so myself. You want to talk about polish? Man, I’ve got polish for miles. Oh, and by the way, I’ll go ahead and say this next thing because, if we’re being honest, why the hell not, right? In case you haven’t noticed, I’m white. Hoo, brother, am I white. Yup, you should be scared sh*tless of me, because guess who isn’t?

The people of Wisconsin. They love me. Republicans and Democrats there love me. Hell, I get Democrats to vote for me even if my policies make zero sense when it comes to their livelihoods. Do you know why? Because they like me. They like my story. Young, good-looking kid who pulled himself up by his bootstraps to make something of himself. Christ, I'm a storybook candidate. I balance out this ticket so well it’s almost too perfect. The people of Ohio are going to think that. And seniors in Florida—the state we supposedly lost when Mitt picked me—won’t be so scared as soon they know that my mother lives in Florida, and that all I want to do is reform the health care system so she can receive care that makes good fiscal sense.

Boy, I’m going to sell the sh*t out of that talking point. And I’m going to do a great job of it. Why? Because I’m Paul Ryan. That’s what I do.

And if we’re having trouble getting Pennsylvania on board, just wait until I absolutely wipe the floor with Joe Biden in the vice presidential debates. Don’t think for a second that I don’t know you’re terrified of us facing off, because in the back of your mind you know it could be a bloodbath up there.

Well, that’s 77 electoral votes, and by my math that means you can kiss your golden boy goodbye after four short years. All that promise. All that energy. All that potential. Gone in one November night.

I’m your worst f*cking nightmare.

Oh, and by the way, don’t even try to pretend you haven’t imagined me being elected president one day.

P.S. Don't forget, it is Star Trek Tuesday at the film site.

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