Saturday, August 11, 2012

Some Initial Thoughts on the Ryan Pick

1) The timing makes little sense to me. Romney has just a few opportunities to truly reset the race. The VP pick, the convention, and the debates. Why make this move on a Saturday ... on a Saturday at 8:45AM EST ... on a Saturday at 8:45AM EST during the last weekend of the Olympics? It is as if Romney is trying to get people to ignore the news. Why not wait until Monday or Tuesday when more will tune in?

2) Picking Ryan is a clear admission the Romney team thinks they are behind and need to change the dynamic and conversation in the race. If you're comfortable with where you are, you pick Pawlenty, Portman, etc. Ryan brings many things to the table that are good for Romney. He's respected by tea party people, he's from Wisconsin, he's smart, and he's telegenic. But he's also a candidate who brings risk to the Romney campaign. He reinforces the pre-existing Obama narrative: Romney wants to give tax cuts to wealthy people while balancing the budget on the backs of the rest of us by cutting Medicare, etc.

3) Picking up on that last point, Romney runs stronger with seniors than younger voters. Picking Ryan gives Obama an opening to gain ground with seniors. The Obama campaign has already sent out an email on Ryan highlighting his plans on Medicare which would be devastating to a very popular program. Also, Ryan is a young guy and he looks even younger than he is. Perhaps this was an intentional effort to reach out to younger voters by Romney but it could hurt him just as much or more among older voters.

4) Does Ryan deliver Wisconsin? No. He's popular in his district but I don't think that matters statewide. Many people have misread Scott Walker's recall victory as an endorsement of Walker's policies. It was more a rejection of the recall mechanism in dealing with policy differences. Moreover, the Obama campaign will wrap Walker's assault on unions around Romney. I think that could hurt Romney just a little bit in states like Ohio and Michigan.

5) I've said all along VP picks don't make much of a difference in the long run of a campaign though they can hurt a candidate. Does Ryan hurt Romney? Certainly not in the short term. Indeed, Romney may even get a minor bounce until people learn more about Ryan and the "newness" of the story fades. In the longer run, I figure it makes no difference and could mildly hurt Romney in terms of reinforcing Obama's narrative.

6) This pick looks an awful lot like Jack Kemp in 1996. A smart conservative darling gets picked to try to smooth out some of the "non-conservative" warts of the nominee. Conservatives swoon over the VP pick in the short term and few remember the pick in the long run and it doesn't make a difference.

1 comment:

Jonathan Keller said...

Good Jack Kemp analogy, in several ways.