Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney's Ryan Choice Doubles Down on Midwest

Mitt Romney has borrowed a page from the Bill Clinton playbook. In 1992, the man from Arkansas picked All Gore from neighboring Tennessee as his running mate. The man from Michigan has this morning picked Paul Ryan from neighboring Wisconsin as his running mate.

The Romney campaign clearly means to pursue a Midwestern strategy, an appeal to the more moderate Republican Party tradition in the Midwest that has focused more on fiscal than on social issues.

Among twelve battleground states, five are in the Midwest: Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. They collectively represent 60 electoral votes out of the 89 electoral votes Romney needs to win in the battleground states. He's got 181 electoral votes all but wrapped up in 22 states, 89 more bring Romney to the magic 270 electoral votes needed for election.

Four of the five states have Republican governors. While voters in Wisconsin and Michigan have tended to favor Democratic Presidential candidates in recent decades, they now have two homegrown boys on the Presidential ballot.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan brings a national appeal as a Tea Party hero for his work in Congress on budget and entitlement reform. Born in 1970, Ryan is a Gen Xer who will also appeal to younger voters. It won't hurt that he has the looks of a young Kennedy. It's a bold choice.

A Romney win in North Carolina would bring his battleground state total to 75 electoral votes. The Obama campaign plans to snub North Carolina voters who enacted a gay marriage ban just this past spring by putting a pro-gay marriage plank into the Democratic Party platform when they hold their national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Where would Romney get the last 14 electoral votes he would need for victory? Well, there's Florida for 29, Pennsylvania for 20, Virginia plus Nevada for 19, Virginia plus New Hampshire for 17, or Colorado pus Nevada for 15.

In other words, Romney has five ways to win if his Midwestern strategy succeeds. Of course, the voters in those states may have something to say about that.

There is a sixth way for Romney to win. If Romney sweeps the five battleground states in the Midwest and wins Colorado and New Hampshire, both Tea Party strongholds, that would leave both Romney and Obama with 269 electoral votes each. Ties go to the U.S. House of Representatives where Republicans have the upper hand and look to keep it.

That means the Obama campaign has to defend all twelve battleground states, because the unnecessary loss of any one could give Romney the victory. The best chance to stop Romney in the Midwest is Michigan. If Romney loses his birthplace state, he'll likely lose the election.

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