We had a good discussion about Paul Ryan’s budget earlier this year at Paperback Theology, (see Should Politicians be telling Theologians What to Think?). Now that he’s been named as Romney’s running mate my initial reaction is that this a pretty big mistake. The reason I think this is simple: Ryan doesn’t get Romney anything he doesn’t already have.
Ryan doesn’t help with conservatives:
Ryan doesn’t help Romney with conservatives because Romney doesn’t need help there. The staunch right wing of the Republican Party was never going to vote for President Obama, and they are certainly not going to sit this election out. Choosing Ryan doesn’t help Romney there, because he doesn’t really need help. Even if Mitt Romney’s true colors are that he is a Moderate Republican, he merely had to appear conservative enough to stave off a third party challenge from the Tea Party. He’s done that already. The Ryan selection doesn’t help Romney with conservatives because they are already highly energized.
Ryan doesn’t help with moderates and undecideds:
In Kansas, for instance, the moderates are still stinging from last week’s primary in which 17 of 22 moderates lost to conservative challengers fueled by money from Americans for Prosperity and the Chamber of Commerce. Ryan is part of the club who just sent moderates packing. Any moderates who were thinking Romney will be much more gun-shy. Many of the moderates who voted for Obama because of Palin, will vote for Obama again because of Ryan. Undecided voters are generally looking for common sense leaders, not strident political ideologues. I don’t think Ryan helps with undecided voters unless they are from the more libertarian camp.
Ryan doesn’t help with foreign policy:
Ryan doesn’t really have any foreign policy experience. When Barak Obama was taking hits about his lack of foreign policy credentials, Joe Biden went a long way toward relieving those concerns. Romney is a smart guy, he’s a grown up and he seems to know his stuff. I really don’t worry about his lack of foreign policy experience, but some will have concerns about his lack of experience compared to Obama’s 4 years in office. Ryan doesn’t help there.
Ryan hurts with seniors and minorities:
Ryan’s Budget defines his political career up to now. It’s the most visible and controversial thing he’s ever put out there. It will scare off seniors and minorities, especially Latinos. That could put Florida – where the president has been trending since February – in the bank for Democrats.
Ryan doesn’t win you Wisconsin:
President Obama has a strong lead in the polls in Wisconsin. Plus, the presidential election inWisconsinis as much about Scott Walker as Obama/Romney. The Democrats, in fact, are going to benefit from incredibly unpopular republican governors in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin – all swing states, and all places where Romney cold have found support with a different VP pick (a Latino or a woman).
Romney gets tagged with Ryan’s Budget:
The biggest downside is that Romney now has to deal with criticism for something he wasn’t even involved in. It’s going to allow the Democrats to paint Romney as far right, which I don’t think is truly who Romney is.
What this pick tells me is that the Romney camp thinks they can win on the “size of government” issue. While I think they will win that issue, I don’t think that issue will define the election. I think the pick, while sure to be wildly popular among conservative republicans, will be a miss in the end.