The selection of Paul Ryan as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate has altered the make up of the 2012 election. The subject of the debate is now centered around changing America’s entitlements. This seismic shift will deeply affect the electoral college. A presidential candidate must win 270 electoral votes to win the White House.
The most obvious effect is in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. The state has leaned Democrat for quite some time, and Obama is expected to do very well there again in 2012. However, the selection of Ryan means Democrats may have to spend a little more time and effort in the state in order to maintain their lead there. With Republicans out-fundraising them, this means they will be at a disadvantage somewhere else. Tough states like North Carolina may now be out of reach.
Paul Ryan is a midwestern man who shares the same values and interests as many across the rust belt. This will help in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Though the latter two states are a stretch for the GOP, Ohio is still crucial to a Romney win. President Obama had been pulling away in the state, and Republicans must hope that Ryan can help level the playing field there. Iowa is another important swing state in the midwest, and Ryan has already been dispatched there to try and drum up support.
The biggest impact of the Ryan selection will be in Florida. The Sunshine State has a large senior population, and Ryan’s plan for Medicare does not go over well here. After his selection was made public, dozens of Florida newspapers came out challenging the Ryan budget plan and its proposed changes to Medicare. This is a prime issue in Florida, and one that is likely to damage the Romney-Ryan ticket going forward. President Obama has struggled with seniors, and prior to the Ryan selection many thought Romney would take Florida. That outcome is now in doubt.
Out west, the biggest prize in the toss up state basket is Colorado. Ryan’s impact there is currently unknown. The state went to Obama in 2008, but it has been moving in Romney’s direction as of late. The president was expected to do well there do to a rising Hispanic population, and Ryan will not affect the minority vote in a major way. Ryan will likely sure up the suburban white vote for Romney, and that may be enough to swing the state.
The dynamics of the 2012 election are changing. Barring a major event between now and election day, the narrative should begin to come into focus. The shift towards entitlements, specifically Medicare, should bring the electoral landscape into better focus. Florida is the biggest prize, and Ryan is most likely a detriment there. The large senior population, a group considered key to a Romney victory, may be moving to the left. Ryan has a large task ahead of him in assuring these voters that his plan will not leave them high and dry. The VP nominee has to touch the third rail, something that has left many politicians politically dead.