Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ryan a fine choice, ignore the ignorant Left

There's no denying that Paul Ryan is a smart, serious-minded Representative. Would that the rest of the House--not to mention the Senate--bore more resemblance to Ryan (or Jeff Flake) and less to Nancy Pelosi. Moreover, Paul Ryan is also personable and an effective speaker. Yet, there's a lot of pseudo-joy flowing from the orifices of progressives and liberals over the selection: they'd like everyone to believe they're happy about it. But don't buy into it.

I guess some on the Left might honestly be happy about Ryan being Romney's VP pick, but that's probably because they're largely ignorant of reality, both with regard to Ryan and elections in general. For instance, many progressives and liberals are pointing to the victory of Democrat Kathy Hochul in a Republican district as evidence that the Ryan pick will not only fail to help Romney, but will also help the Dems win back all kinds of House seats.

For those unfamiliar with Hochul, she won a special election victory in NY 26 last year after scandal forced Representative Chris Lee to step down. And her platform consisted largely of being opposed to Ryan's budget. The District had been solidly Republican since 2000, having gone with Bush twice and McCain in 2008. The simplistic conclusion drawn from this race: running against the Ryan Budget is a winner because it galvanizes voters against Republicans who support the Ryan budget, especially older voters.

But a simple look at the actual numbers in the 2011 Special Election tells a different tale: there was no turnout in the election. Only 111,000 people voted in it, as opposed to 205,000 in 2010 and 270,000 in 2008. There was no huge movement of support towards Hochul. She received less than 53,000 total votes. In the 2010 election for NY 26, the Democratic challenger to Lee received just over 54,00 votes (Lee received over 150,000). In 2008, the Democrat Alice Kryzan received over 109,000 votes, but lost to Lee's 148,000 votes. Despite increased spending by Republicans in the 2011 special election, their candidate--Jane Corwin--didn't move anyone. Hochul beat her, not Paul Ryan. In a Presdential Election year Hochul's seat is now in jeopardy. It's foolish to believe otherwise.

Yet from their flawed analysis of NY 26, Democrats are not only imagining that Ryan will give them House seats, but that he may also hand Florida to Obama in the Presidential Election. And again, that's a product of their ignorance, by and large. Because Ryan won't be some faceless boogeyman in 2012, he'll actually be on the battlefield, actively campaigning. For those that imagine this is a positive for Democrats, they might consider doing a little homework. Ryan, after all, won his seat in a solidly Democratic district. And he's held that seat with ease, even when Obama carried the district, as John Fund notes at NRO:
First, if Ryan is an extremist and his proposals are so unpopular, how has he won election seven times in a Democratic district? His lowest share of the vote was 57 percent — in his first race. He routinely wins over two-thirds of the vote. When Obama swept the nation in 2008, he carried Ryan’s district by four points. But at the same time, Ryan won reelection with 65 percent of the vote, meaning that a fifth of Obama voters also voted for him.
In 2010, Ryan won by an even larger margin with 68% of the vote. Ryan's success is largely attributable to his hands-on approach: he engages his constituency on a personal level, holding town hall meeting after town hall meeting to explain his positions. In short, he's a very effective politician who also comes across as honest  and accessible.

And Democrats are happy they get to run against him? Please. Ryan had already amassed a reelection campaign fund larger than any other member of the House. He's good at that, too. Really, he's the Democrats' worst nightmare. The only reason the Left has to be happy about all of this is that Ryan  is only in the VP slot; switch his and Romney's positions and there'd be some serious hand-wringing and hair-pulling in the DNC offices.

But having said all of that, Republicans shouldn't allow the Ryan selection to cloud their reality, either. Romney is still trailing Obama, is still facing an uphill battle. And the election remains one between the two of them. As I've noted, the VP selection is not a game-changer, has never been  a game-changer:
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the VP selection is meaningless. It certainly is not. Whomever gets tapped for the spot gains national exposure and has a fair chance of assuming the Presidency, either because an incumbent is unable to continue as President, or because it provides an opportunity in a future election. But with regard to the actual election, the selection really is not all that important, provided that the choice doesn't turn out to be someone with horrible secrets--like a closet full of dead hookers--that come to light during the campaign.
That said, Ryan's presence can impact Romney, himself. If Romney adjusts his own campaign and attitude based on that presence, there is hope. And Ryan will--in campaigning around the nation--be available to House members in close races. Because--again--running against Ryan in person is a very different proposition from running against bogus propaganda about his proposals.

Cheers, all.


  1. I first saw Ryan during the healthcare reform debates (if I am not mistaken). I predicted then that he would run this election as a presidential candidate, and be a serious contender. The guy is seriously impressive (especially for someone like me). He is extremely articulate (without teleprompter), he has very good tv persona, he is extremely analytical and logical in his presentation and detail oriented.
    I think that in picking him Romney "listened" to many recent suggestions (such as Kraythammer) about changing the tone of the campaign from just the managerial bit to a more ideological presentation.
    I don't know if they'll win, but I can't see this pick being a real downside for the Repubs. If the vp debate is about finances, Ryan is going to mop the floor with Biden. Going to be interesting.

    P.S. The responses by the Dems and the media are also predictable. It's not like they wouldn't say almost the same things in case of any other pick.

    P.P.S. It is interesting that those talking how bad this pick is, point to the NY special election, but not to 2010 or to Wisconsin recall. I mean, in a nutshell, Ryan represents the ideas that swept Repubs into office in 2010.

  2. Hehehe