Was Paul Ryan a drag on the Republican ticket?


Noam Scheiber ARGUES that celebrated budget guru Paul Ryan hurt rather than helped Mitt Romney’s chances of becoming president:

Most of what you need to know about why Ryan was kryptonite for the GOP is contained in the pages of the so-called Path to Prosperity, his proposal to roll back government spending, de-fund Medicaid, and hack up Medicare while cutting taxes on the wealthy. Although smaller government polls reasonably well in the abstract — as it did in Tuesday’s exit polls — the most specific elements of Ryan’s plan are calamitously unpopular…  

Before Romney made Ryan his running mate, conservatives persuaded themselves that the problem wasn’t the plan itself. It was that Ryan, possessed of both a righteous cause and irresistible powers of persuasion, had never had a chance to sell the plan on a national stage. Elevating him to the GOP ticket would correct that particular injustice.

But during the brief moment this summer when Ryan was prominently featured in the campaign—the window the Ingrahams of the world now pine for—his presence only made Romney less appealing to seniors and less credible on Medicare, depressing his margins in swing states. Not long after Ryan joined the ticket in August, a Quinnipiac poll showed Obama leading Romney on the question of who would better handle Medicare by 8 points in Florida and 10 points in Ohio. After a few weeks of Ryan charming voters with his budgetary dreaminess, the poll showed Obama leading Romney on the issue by 15 points in Florida and 16 points in Ohio. In a similar vein, Quinnipiac showed Obama struggling mightily with older voters back in August — down 13 points in Florida and 8 points in Ohio among people over 65. By late September, Obama was up 4 among seniors in Florida and 1 in Ohio.



  1. Interesting theory.

    I would have loved to seen an actual debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. One would think that if his message was political poison the Democrats would have been happy to tlet him talk all night long. Instead we got Paul Ryan taking a breath to answer a question and Joe Biden immediately interrupting him.

    Oh well. Biden will be done in 4 years and Ryan is just getting started.

  2. doc: Remember where you heard it:

    If Ryan sticks to philosophies like those reflected in his budget plan, he has no hopes of ever attaining national office. None.

    I doubt that he could even get elected to the Senate from Wisconsin. His margin of re-election to Congress was down more than 20 points this year.

    This guy is going nowhere fast. He was a flash-in-the-pan who was undone by his own ideas and then took to emulating Romney’s lies and lied about his own Randian discipleship.

    Paulie better concentrate on mending fences in his congressional district or he’ll be looking for work in the private sector.

  3. I’ve gotta tell you I thought for a brief second that your next post was entitled constipation and pelvic pain!

    I will remember where I heard it, but you won’t be surprised to know that I disagree.

    Paul Ryan has raised his already high profile with the public. When the Democrats are unable to reign in spending and the economy continues to languish voters will be much more interested in listening to someone who has an actual plan to fix our myriad problems.

    He is hardly the extremist you and your liberal brethren worked so hard to depict, 48% of the voting public agrees.

    I would expect many more public appearances, a book or two, and multiple forums in which Ryan can talk and not be interrupted.

  4. No way on Ryan. His story isn’t compelling. He’s not that great of a speaker and he’s been a flipping legislator most of his life. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Now, maybe as a P90X spokesman. . . but President? Not a chance.

  5. After having his lunch handed to him in the debate Ryan became a liability and was sequestered to soft campaign duties. He tried to regain his creditability by discussing of all things poverty but that failed as well.

  6. I don’t know how you can have your “lunch handed to you” when you aren’t able to speak for more than 30 seconds without an interruption.

    Why isn’t his story compelling? Because he isn’t a minority? Oh wait, it’s because he’s a conservative Republican right?

    He is young. He is smart. And he remains one of most politically powerful people in the country.

    He isn’t going anywhere.

  7. not that young, not that smart (didn’t know his “hero” ayn rand was an atheist), not in touch with women

    there are many smarter up-and-coming republicans

  8. That is a joke to say that Paul Ryan was a liability in this race. The problem, in my opinion, was in campaign strategy. When Ryan joined Romney, he infused the campaign with energy and ideas, and can articulate them better than anyone. The problem was, he does have more specific and clear ideas about what to do than Romney was willing to embrace, and as the race went on, they seemed to shy away from that. The main problem, as expdoc said, is that you never really heard Paul Ryan debate, or really articulate his ideas the way he can. Unfortunately, Obama and Biden were successful in painting Ryans plans as an attack on Medicare, when most people don’t understand what he is proposing. He is one who puts forth plans to fix the problem, even though he knows it is politically unpopular. That is a leader. Paul Ryan will be back, and will be better when he is at the top of the ticket.

  9. Those who have trouble with the truth should be interrupted. Ryan’s star power will diminish along with his dark money supporters who don’t want to risk another loss.

  10. Skipper-

    Paul Ryan is 42. Just because he has been in Congress since he was 28 doesn’t make him old. Barring catastrophe he will be a political force for another 25 years.

    He is in fact quite smart. All you have to do is look to Joe Biden’s debate tactics to know that Old Joe was scared to let Ryan talk for more than 10 seconds.

    Not in touch with women-based on what exactly?

  11. Steverino-

    How would Biden know if he was telling the truth. He interupted him 82 times in 90 minutes.

  12. doc: I don’t question your contention that Ryan is smarter than the average member of Congress, which has raised a question in my mind:

    Did he recognize that serious analysts like Nate Silver and Sam Wang probably had a more accurate grasp of the likely election outcome than did the conservatives (Peggy Noonan, for example) whose gut feelings told them that the Republican ticket would win? I know he could never publicly state anything but optimism, but I wonder if he knew that the handwriting was on the wall.

    Almost none of the pundits who predicted a Republican victory used mathematical analysis to support their arguments. What with Ryan being a numbers guy himself, I just wonder if he had it figured out.

    This is another way of saying that he should have had a better take on the matter than did people like you who actually bought into that pipe dream Peggy Noonan was selling in the Wall Street Journal this past Monday. That was as dumb a piece as she’s ever written, especially the part about how Obama and Romney looked at the Al Smith dinner. She said Romney “looked like a president. He looked like someone who’d just seen good [poll] internals.” Puh-leeze! This woman may be good at turning a phrase in a speech she’s writing, but as a political analyst, she’s awful.

    Anyway, I suspect that Ryan knew what was coming. Of course, we’ll never know — unless he says as much in his memoir. But I probably won’t still be around to read it.

  13. I suspect he did know. I also suspect that how things went down were part of his calculation from before he accepted the nomination.

    Ryan knew that Romney was going to run an “honorable” campaign and not do anything egregiously stupid. He knew that the campaign would raise his political profile and I am sure he was confident that he himself wouldn’t do anything stupid.

    He knew it would be hard to unseat an incumbent but he also truly believes the fiscal situation the federal government faces is an ever growing crisis that will eventually require serious solutions.

  14. doc: You’ve outdone yourself. Of all the nonsense you’ve ever peddled here, the following takes the cake:

    “Ryan knew that Romney was going to run an ‘honorable’ campaign and not do anything egregiously stupid.”

    Honorable? Romney set a new record for dishonesty as a presidential candidate. Nobody in American history has ever come close. Nobody. Go ahead and trot out what you regard as prevarications by Obama. They are nothing compared to Romney’s output in sheer volume and audacity.

    Oh, and as for egregious stupidity on Romney’s part, well…don’t get me started. The record is what you might call a target-rich environment.

  15. Consider it a birthday present.

  16. It depends on what perspective you’re coming from. With real republicans and moderate undecided voters yes, he was a drag, They wanted a mainstream, right of center guy like Romney himself.

    Instead Romney latches on to the devil from Wisconsin and drags his campaign to the far right in hopes of picking up the extremists in the tea party. It was those extremists who never liked Romney in the first place but had hopes of Ryan stepping up in 4 yrs. Idiot probably would have tapped Walker as a running mate.

    Ryan may have been re-elected but I think he has won his last race.

  17. Todd A.

    Care to wager on that last statement?

    Ryan still won his seat by 12% and he couldn’t really even campaign in his district.

    Your assertion that Ryan is a devil and Walker is an extremist instantly identify you as a left wing wack job.

  18. Heh, heh, heh. Left wing. We don’t have a left wing in this country, we have left of center moderates and far right extremists. If we had a left wing we would have national healthcare and we would actually be socialist. We do not and we are not.

    As further proof of my original post, a copy and paste from CNN:

    The co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, Jenny Beth Martin, said Wednesday that Republicans nominated a “weak, moderate candidate” who was “hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party.” She added the “presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”

    I love it though. I think it is great that the right is arguing amongst themselves. The tea party says Romney is too moderate while the vast majority of the republican party, the so-called establishment, says that the tea party is too extreme.

    Remember doc, 9 freshmen tea party reps failed to achieve re-election. I hope that signals the end of their hold on congress and I hope the remaining members take note.

  19. Doc,

    1998- 14.4% margin
    2000-33.3% margin
    2002-36.6% margin
    2004-32.8% margin
    2006-25.4% margin
    2008-29.3% margin
    2010-38.1% margin
    2012-11% margin

    Yeah, I’d say he is done.

  20. Get back to me in 2 years. By your definition Obama hardly deserves his second term.

    As far as the in fighting amongst the Republican Party? I believe that would all be a normal event after losing in a Presidential election year.

  21. How would Biden know if Ryan was not telling the truth?

    He saw his lips move.

  22. I’m a Dem but if I were advising Ryan, I’d tell him to lay low for a while, figure out a way to get more foreign policy experience (that’s gonna be hard as a Congressman, as opposed to a Senator) and build up your gravitas and move beyond the P90X stuff.

    If he really wants a future, he’s gonna have to move beyond being a budget nerd. That’s not exactly compelling when it comes to running for President. Put him up against Christie, Rubio, Jeb Bush, etc, in three years (yes, three, cause that’s when it will start) and he’s gonna get hammered. And, if the economy improves, which it should, then the “budget wonk” thing is even less of a draw. And, if I were the Dems, I’d try to recruit someone now to start running against him in 2014.

  23. someone132

    Yeah, it’s a good thing that Ryan is relatively young. He still has enough time to mature and evolve as a politician in the next 4-8 years. I would really hope that he uses his budget credentials to come up with some sort of pro-life plan that actually includes things like COMPENSATING pregnant rape victims and CREATING government-run centres for children that would have been aborted otherwise, since there is no way he could restore his credentials with women.

    To keep in line with the pro-life theme, he should actively campaign for OUTLAWING the death penalty on the federal level or something to that effect. He is not going to lose many right-wing votes because of that, but this will greatly boost his chances with the left.

    Finally, while I don’t see him abandoning his marriage equality beliefs, he should at least actively condemn homophobic groups like Westborough church.

    Once he does all of that, he will become a serious contender in 2016 or 2020 elections.

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