What a difference a week makes.
It was less than a week ago that the Romney campaign announced Paul Ryan as the running mate, and already down ticket candidates are trying to put some distance between themselves and the would-be veep.
What are they afraid of? Loosing. Big-time.
But as my math teacher always said, if something happens on one side of the equation, something has to happen on the other side to balance it out. In this case, it’s Democrats seeing a huge opportunity in a possible miscalculation of voter appetite for Ryan’s loony ideas.
In a Washington Post story today, Congressman David Price reacted to the fallout from the Ryan announcement here in North Carolina:
To understand the elation Democrats feel about the Ryan choice, it’s useful to canvass their reactions in what will be one of the hardest battleground states for President Obama to hang onto. In 2008, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate in 32 years to carry North Carolina. Now it is, with Indiana, one of the states most likely to move back to the GOP. “We’re at the pink end of the spectrum,” Rep. David Price, a Democrat who represents the Research Triangle area, said in a phone interview.
To Price, Ryan offers a double opportunity for the Democrats. The swing voters in his own district, he says, “are pretty practical and not enamored of the doctrinaire, ideological approach that Ryan exemplifies.” The very reasons that ideologues admire Ryan are the reasons that independents and moderates may be put off by him.
On top of that, Price said, “the issues of Medicare and Social Security are toxic for Ryan.” White voters in the current over-65 generation, more conservative than the New Deal era electoral cohort that has largely passed on, are now the base of the Republican Party. By putting Medicare on the ballot, Ryan threatens to push away core Republican voters.
Without those core voters, Romney is going to have a very heavy lift not only in North Carolina, but throughout the South. The latest Public Policy Polling survey, conducted just before the Ryan announcement, added a couple of points to President Obama’s slim margin over Mitt Romney in North Carolina, bringing his current lead in the state to 3 points, at 49% to 46%. Perhaps more interesting is while Obama picked up two points in his approval rating to bring it to -1, Romney’s favorability experienced a drop of 5 points. And remember, all of this was before the Ryan announcement.
Of course, we are all just speculating about how the mythical “average voter” is interpreting all of the new information being blasted out by both sides of the debate and how this will all play out in November. What I can tell you, however, is that the reality of proposing such an audacious tax plan is certainly setting in for Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney. And I, for one, am enjoying it.