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.