While commenters debate the size of any poll “bounce” for Romney after selecting Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, the trend-lines are certainly clear. Romney has gained ground in every poll released since the Ryan announcement. Today, Rasmussen released its latest poll, showing Romney taking a first-ever lead in the Badger State.
On one hand, Romney’s lead in Wisconsin, 48-47, may not seem surprising, since Paul Ryan is a popular congressman from the state. But Obama won the state by 56% and, until very recently, Wisconsin was considered one of Obama’s base states in the electoral college. Over the past few months, Obama has enjoyed small, but consistent leads in the Badger State. But, with 46% of state voters saying Ryan’s selection makes them more likely to vote for Romney, the state should now be considered a toss-up. Romney would have made it close here, but Ryan on the ticket may be enough to cross the finish line.
The state has been embroiled in something of an existential debate over the proper role of government. The left bet big that voters would reject sweeping budget reforms. They lost that bet decisively. Voters here seem especially open to the kind of budget and economic reforms championed by Ryan. In fact, 48% of voters worry more about ObamaCare’s impact on Medicare against 42% who worry more about Ryan’s proposals.
It is often unnoticed that Ryan’s district leans Democrat. Obama won Ryan’s district by 4 points in 2008. In that same election, Ryan crushed his Democrat opponent, garnering 65% of the vote. In fact, since he first ran for the seat in 1998, Ryan’s vote total has never been less than 57%. Ryan’s political career isn’t based on simply getting the votes from strong GOP base voters, but winning lots of support from Independents and Democrats.
Wisconsin shares many similar demographics with other battleground states, especially Michigan, Ohio and, to an extent, Pennsylvania. If he can replicate his political skills in these states, he could be a critical factor in these important states. The impact doesn’t have to be dramatic, as a movement of 2 or 3 points could decide the race in these states.
Pundits can debate whether or not Romney is getting a bounce from the Ryan pick in the national polling. But, it is clear the Ryan pick is having a positive impact in the states that count; the ones where the voters are paying the most attention.