85: Breaking: Saturday Night Davie, Florida: Embattled Dolphin WR Chad Johnson nee Ochocinco was arrested Saturday night after "head butting" his new wife who became irate when she found a receipt for condoms in the WR's car while the couple was returning home from dinner. Those receipts will kill ya.
Because we have sources everywhere who never sleep, the Captain scooped the national media and broke the news last night that Mitt Romney would be picking Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan as his VP nominee.
Ryan is the Republican Party's new Jack Kemp, for whatever that is worth. And it might be worth a lot. Read on Macbeth.
First a bit on timing. The polls were in rapid free fall for Mitt Romney over the last few days. Obama's campaign gambled that by spending early to negatively define Romney (adopting the Bush playbook versus John Kerry in 2004), the Republican would be forced to spend defensively to rebut the allegations. The strategy has worked. Thus the Romney campaign called an audible, or one could say panicked a bit as the mid week polling data came in late Friday night, and chose the second worst media day of the week: Saturday morning, to make their official announcement.
Take from the timing what you will, but outside of some favorable news in Colorado, the polling data was alarming. New polls showed Romney behind 4 points in Virginia (NY Times/CBS/ Quinnipiac) and even the Rasmussen polls, which are somewhat Republican biased, has Obama up two points in Virginia, which not surprisingly, has a below national average unemployment rate of 5.6%. When the issue is not the economy, Romney has no chance.
Next: the rest of our data and analysis is drawn from the 538 blog, which has shown since 2000, that it is THE preeminent political analysis blog on the planet. You call follow 538 here on the NY TImes.
538 has no demonstrable bias, calling the 2004 election for Bush in the closing days when even the Kerry campaign started calling the senator "Mr. President" when early returns on election day suggested Kerry was going to win big in Ohio (Bush squeaked out a win in Ohio which gave him the margin of victory in the electoral college).
The Ryan Factor: Congressman Ryan has the smallest positive impact on Romney's vote of all the potential vice presidential nominees. Ryan's positive impact on Romney votes in Wisconsin and in the national vote was put by 538 at +0.7%, whereas traditionally a vice presidential choice has a +2.5% positive impact on the candidate in the nationwide vote. By comparison, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has a positive impact of +27% on her home state voters and +4% on voters in the national election.
Ryan comes with baggage: his conservative monetary policies, particularly as it relates to social security and medicare/medicaid, open the Romney/Ryan ticket to continued charges that the Republicans don't care about the poor. The choice of Ryan creates, in our opinion (and there is no data analysis by 538 on this at the moment) a negative impact on Romney's chances of winning Florida, with its high population of elderly retirees. But Ryan may have a bigger positive impact on Wisconsin and to a lesser extent Ohio, although the polling data doesn't yet reflect it, and his choice should bolster Romney's current surge in Colorado, which is currently a battleground state with both campaigns pouring large amounts of money and time into the state. One caveat: Ryan comes from the monetary neo-con movement, whose young members idolize Ayn Rand. However, Ms. Rand's Objectivist philosophy, with its total rejection of religion, plays poorly to the Christian Right- which has a solid base in Colorado (especially the Colorado Springs area). In the past Ryan, who at times has enthusiastically embraced certain principles of Rand's philosophy, has been forced to back track when challenged by religious conservatives.
Unfortunately for Ryan, as Ms. Rand was known to remark about "straddlers", in for a penny, in for a pound.
538 currently puts the chances of an Obama electoral college victory at 72%, up from 68% in June. It's been a hot, tough summer for Romney. Although the economic news over the summer has been tepid at best, Obama has been able to not only negate the negative impact of the economy on his campaign, but actually increase his lead over Romney by painting him as an out of touch, wealthy, uncaring elitist. Like that picture of John Kerry windsurfing, pictures of Romney on his jet ski over the 4th of July weekend didn't help matters. Small things sometimes win big elections.
One final thought: the selection of Ryan is Romney's final capitulation to the Republican Right. The moderate wing of the Republican party is now arguably dead and buried. It was last represented in any strength by George Herbert Walker Bush on economics and social policy (Bush's tax increases, which cost him the election, arguably set the stage for the great economic recovery during the Clinton adminsitration) and by on foreign affairs by Brent Scowcroft (Ford and Bush 41's National Security Advisor and a loud and frequent public critic of Bush 43's invasion of Iraq) and Collin Powell.
The selection of Paul Ryan now makes him the face of the Republican party for the next thirty years (Ryan is 42). Perhaps then it was more than just a slip of the tongue when Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan at their first official campaign event, televised on all the major cable news networks, as "The Next President of the United States."
In many ways, Mr. Ryan may well be the next REPUBLICAN President of the United States.