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Paul Ryan

August 11th, 2012, 9:47am by Sam Wang

And here I thought it might be Scott Walker (WI), who might have been the choice had Romney been in a stronger position. Adding Ryan seems like a defensive move to shore up the base. (To find out why, see this piece by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker.) This may focus the race on budget/Medicare, and perhaps strengthen the Democrats’ chances in the House. Not so much the Presidential race, where the effect is likely to be  transient (Palin) or regional (useful in a very close race, such as 1960 Kennedy-Johnson).

But you do not come to this site for political judgments from a neurogeek. With enough data, we should see whether Ryan affects WI or the national race by the convention or shortly thereafter, in 1-2 weeks.

Update: excellent reads, Kevin Drum and James Fallows survey the likely impact. As Lee Atwater told Dan Quayle in 1988: “You were the best rabbit we ever had. Let them chase you and they’ll stay off the important things.

Tags: 2012 Election · House · President

6 Comments so far ↓

  • Olav Grinde

    That’s spot on, imho. I think we can look forward a new series of effective Democratic TV-commercials, highlighting the risk of gutting Medicare and having middle-class America pay the tax cuts of the very rich.

    Moreover, with the renewed focus on the economy and the budget that the pick of Paul Ryan will bring, there will be a rejuvenated fight over House and Senate races — with improved chances for the Democrats.

    My prediction: The Democrats retain their Senate majority and pick up new seats in the House of Representatives.

    Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stieglitz had a great article the other day about the dangers of what he calls “deficit fetishism”. Very worthwhile reading!

  • Elizabeth Duvert

    Back again, after faithfully following you in 2008. I love your maps. Great work.

  • Dave Kliman


    You are, to me, the most highly regarded election predictor. I would be very happy, at any time, to hear and know what you have to say, on probably quite a few subjects. Feel free to write as much as you like.

  • Tapen Sinha

    Ryan pick is really a dream come true for the Democrats. They are already successfully hammering away at tax matters against Romney. Now they will have a kick at the can with Medicare. Of course, Romney is hoping for a less than 30 percent white male vote for Obama by picking Ryan. It might. But then again, it comes at a cost of losing more women (Condi could have helped), more Hispanics (Rubio could have helped – at least the non-Mexican origin votes) and so on. There will certainly be a Ryan bump. But most VP bumps in the past have been transitory.

  • Olav Grinde

    Everyone is talking about what effect Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan will have on the presidential polls.

    Sam, when time allows, I would be really curious whether the unveiling of the Romney-Ryan ticket is having any discernable effects on the House and Senate races.

    • Sam Wang

      My reading is that only a politician who would gain by being on a losing Romney ticket would say yes to the VP slot. In retrospect, this ruled out people like Christie or Walker. It is unfortunate for the Republicans that Romney chose someone who conceptually ties the Presidential race to Congressional races. Recent polls suggested the possibility of GOP control of both the House and Senate. At this point I would no longer bet on that. The coming weeks will be clarifying.

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