Am I the only one who’s still head-scratchingly, shoulder-shrugingly, stare-aimlessly-at-the-heavens mystified by the Paul Ryan pick? Any explanation for the selection has to grapple with Ryan's enormous liabilities: He is a congressman who’s never run for office outside his Wisconsin district. He is the author of a wildly regressive budget plan that voters soundly rejected the one time they weighed in on it.
Fox News and CNN have surveys showing Romney making gains after shifting to a likely voter model. That’s utterly predictable, but the size of Romney’s gains is more interesting.
The biggest news is in Wisconsin, where the first post-Ryan polls show a closer race in the Badger State. While Obama’s 4-point edge in the CNN poll might look comfortable, notice that it’s a poll of registered voters, so it’s probably slightly closer. Given that Obama has a 3-point lead nationally, Wisconsin appears to have moved right into alignment with the nation as a whole. That’s hardly surprising given the expected bounce for a VP pic and it moves the state into the toss-up column.
Of all the states where Romney and Obama declined to air advertisements, none stood out more than Wisconsin. In 2000 and 2004, Kerry and Gore won by only the narrowest margins, and it’s a state where Obama depends on the support of a near majority of the white working class voters who have proven skeptical of his performance. But even though Obama has suffered big losses in Wisconsin since 2008, he appears to have retained just enough support to keep the state leaning toward Obama.
It has been fashionable in the wake of Wade Michael Page’s tragic acts in Wisconsin to speculate on whether the White Power music he listened to helped stoke him into the senseless murders he committed. Such speculations, however, are as incoherent as they are pointless—and they are marked, above all, by a cloying air of self-congratulation. A comparison with another musical genre helps put the debate into relief.
The campaigns are pouring millions of dollars into North Carolina and the polls show a tight race, but Nate Silver doesn’t think that the state is worth the investment. While he is certainly right that North Carolina is unlikely to prove decisive, it’s easy to envision how the Tar Heel state could play a pivotal role in 2012.