Why Paul Ryan Should Worry Democrats

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 12, 2012

Courtesy of John Fund:

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.

Ryan has pointed out to me that no Republican has carried his district for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984. “I have held hundreds of town-hall meetings in my district explaining why we have to take bold reform steps, and I’ve found treating people like adults works,” he told me. “All those ads pushing elderly woman off the cliffs don’t work anymore if you lay out the problem.”

Second, Democrats know that Ryan has Reaganesque qualities that make him appealing to independent, middle-class voters. Take the cover story on Ryan that the Isthmus, a radically left-wing Madison, Wis. newspaper, ran on him in 2009. “Ryan, with his sunny disposition and choirboy looks, projects compassion and forcefully proclaims dedication to his district,” the story reported. “And he’s proved he is not unyieldingly pro-corporate, as when he recently joined in condemnation of AIG ‘retention’ bonuses.”

Third, Ryan’s ideas aren’t that novel or scary. The idea of “premium support” for Medicare, which would change the program’s one-size-fits-all policy to a private-insurance model with public options, was endorsed by a bipartisan commission appointed by Bill Clinton back in the 1990s. Late last year, Ryan announced a new version of his proposal with a new partner signing on: Democratic senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who first achieved political prominence as an advocate for seniors.

Four, Ryan puts Wisconsin and its ten electoral votes in play. Polls have shown that President Obama holds a five to seven point lead in Wisconsin — significant, but much less than Obama’s 14-point margin in 2008. With Ryan on the ticket, polls show the race is dead even.

You should read the whole thing, as there are a couple more reasons why Ryan’s selection should scare Democrats. Fund mentions the probability that Ryan would help the Romney campaign raise even more money. And sure enough, since yesterday, the Romney campaign raised $3.5 million.

Oh, and here is another reason for Democrats to be worried: Barack Obama’s job approval rating is only 43%.

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