Mitt Romney announced on Saturday that he selected Wisconsin Congressman — and Budget Committee Chairman — Paul Ryan as his running mate. With that announcement, Romney effectively turned Ryan into a two-percenter. The label is not meant to suggest Ryan is an elitist (though, based on a profile in the New York Times, he may be), but rather is a reflection of Nate Silver’s research indicating that vice-presidential candidates typically net their ticket two percentage points in their home states.
Assuming that past experience holds true for the 2012 election, we should therefore adjust the Wisconsin polling data taken prior to Ryan’s ascension by about two points. Now, I may have nearly failed 10th grade precalculus, but even I can do the calculation and tell you that those two points still may not be enough to win Romney Wisconsin.
But even if it were, the only key battleground state in which Romney was clearly challenging Obama before this weekend was Florida. Silver’s analysis, while solid on the benefit a vice-presidential pick can have for the ticket in the candidate’s home state, cannot extrapolate any potential negative impact the VP pick may have in other states. Think the Obama campaign wasted any time putting together TV adds to run 24 hours a day in Palm Beach about the treatment of Medicare under Paul Ryan’s budget?
With Ryan on the ticket, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin are still all in play. Some, like Florida, more than they were last week and others, like Wisconsin, perhaps less so. But when you look at the electoral college polling, it becomes clear that the election may not be as close as national polling suggests. My own final prediction? Barring military conflict with Iran, an economic disaster, or any other unforeseen event, Obama-Biden win in November with 297 electoral votes.