Paul Ryan’s selection as running mate was supposed to boost Mitt Romney’s bona fides amongst both the traditional conservative base and the Tea Party faction. There was a momentary bump in Romney’s profile as well as campaign receipts heading into the RNC after Ryan’s selection, but since then there has been a flatline in the polls. Obama is now enjoying a 6-point lead. So what does this mean?
According to polling data collected by Langer Associates, Democratic support for Obama grew by eight percentage points to 91 percent following the DNC. But is growing support amongst Democrats the entire truth?
Could it also be that some conservative voters, as well as swing voters, finally realized that first of all Mitt Romney is full of shit and does not have the interests of the middle class at heart; and, secondly, the exposure of Paul Ryan’s voting record under George W. Bush—$6.8 trillion in deficits—has revealed that he is also full of shit? If Romney and Ryan were as good as advertised for the tax-cuttin’ GOP base, then they should by all stretches of the imaginations be coming out in droves. This would be reflected in the polls and it is not.
A growing realization amongst undecided voters that the Romney/Ryan plan really isn’t a plan at all might also be at work. Apart from “saving” Medicare and cutting entitlements, Romney and Ryan haven’t articulated an overall plan for the country. They have instead simply blamed Obama for the slow pace of the economy and taken aim at Obamacare, all without bothering to state that banks, corporations and the middle class aren’t spending a ton of money, never mind the fact that Obama (as one man) can’t force any of them to do it. Coming out of a recession is not as simple as cutting taxes—if that were true, with the lowest tax rates in 30 years, we should be coming out of like an economic superpower!
Even Reagan had to admit that this “starve the beast” strategy (cut taxes to force down spending) failed, forcing him to raise taxes a number of times. (Reagan raised taxes more times than he cut them, as noted by Bruce Bartlett, who served in both the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations.) None of this matters to the cognitively dissonant conservative mind. However, to undecided voters who might vote GOP one election and Democrat the next, it does matter. Could it be that these voters are migrating to Obama because he, despite his failings, does have a plan?
The Romney/Ryan ticket also has to contend with the fact that the economy is not getting worse but slowly getting better. Blaming Obama for tax cut-created deficits and debts created by the GOP under Bush only goes so far. The country has the lowest tax rates in the last 30 years (lower than even Ronald Reagan), and jobs reports, manufacturing and the housing market are on the mend.
All of this seems to indicate that the hoped for Ryan VP bump has been unable to improve Romney’s fortunes. Consider him, for the moment, irrelevant. And unless he can managed to articulate a coherent plan, intelligent voters will leave the GOP to its growing paranoid fringe.