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Bad Numbers Budget: Why The Ryan Nomination Isn’t Helping Romney


Bad Numbers Budget: Why The Ryan Nomination Isn’t Helping Romney


Nearly a week has passed since Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate, with no evidence so far that choosing the Wisconsin Congressman boosted the Republican campaign. If the Ryan choice falls flat, that won’t surprise us at all – because in selecting him, Romney adopts the principles and priorities of Ryan’s radical budget plan as his own.

Romney can’t say we didn’t warn him. Last month, we released a memo underscoring the Ryan budget’s potential impact on Mitt Romney. When voters learned that Romney had given Ryan’s budget his full-throated support, they pulled back sharply—to the extent that President Obama’s lead against Romney more than doubled when the election was framed as a choice on the Ryan budget.

Our key findings show why picking Ryan was a dangerous gamble for the Romney campaign:

President Obama’s lead against Romney more than doubles when the election is framed as a choice between the two candidates’ positions on the Ryan budget– particularly its impact on the most vulnerable. The President makes significant gains among key groups, including independents and voters in the Rising American Electorate (the unmarried women, youth, and minority voters who drove Obama to victory in 2008).

Mitt Romney’s embrace of the Ryan budget erodes his support and opens him up to attack on major issues. When the election is framed as a choice between Romney’s support for Paul Ryan and Obama’s opposition based on principle, Obama’s ballot margin increases by nine points nationally, with his total vote climbing above 50 percent.

The more people learn about the Ryan budget, the less they like it and its authors. When we described its individual components, the plan not only loses support, but drags its supporters, including Romney, down with it. For the last two years, we have measured voters’ real and deep concerns about the deficit. By seizing upon their self-proclaimed mandate to advance an increasingly extreme agenda, Republicans in Washington, notably Ryan himself, have sharply repelled voters. (See our recent Battleground and National Research memos.)

Voters decisively reject Ryan’s plan to cut taxes for the very wealthiest. They’re worried by Ryan’s plan for Medicare and health care spending for seniors. They abhor Ryan’s plan to allow the refundable child tax credit to expire — which would push the families of 2 million children back into poverty – and they strongly disapprove of his proposed cuts to education spending. These issues may well motivate swing voters and Democratic base voters who have yet to express enthusiasm in this election.

Finally, voters reject Ryan on both practical and moral grounds. In focus groups and surveys, what evidently drives voters most sharply and permanently away from Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney is their concern over budget priorities they regard as simply immoral. Even we were surprised at how strongly voters feel about this distinction. They take a moral approach to evaluating the proposed cuts in the Ryan budget. And they reject the budget on deeply principled and unmovable grounds.

Image via Flickr.com



  1. Patrick Brack August 17, 2012

    Thank you . Calms my nerves because compassion is utterly lacking in their projections,
    whereas our party , this president clearly registers as a caring, human being: uppermost.

    1. Bunny August 20, 2012

      It calms my nerves too. Our President isn’t perfect and he never claims to be, but, he is a much more caring person , and trying to do the right thing.

  2. BlueberryT August 19, 2012

    Most hopeful thing I’ve read in a while – thanks!

  3. olsondavid August 20, 2012

    Here’s the thing that keeps me awake at night – a seeming lack of urgency from the people who rallied behind Obama in 2008. It seems that disappointment in what he was able to accomplish in the face of the continual filibusters from the Party of No has made some think he isn’t committed to the agenda he laid out.

    My belief is that he wasn’t prepared for how much the right feared and hated his presence in the political scene. He tried for far too long to “play nice” under the assumption that the right cared more about the welfare of the nation than they did about defeating him in 2012. He was wrong. They announced their agenda to defeat Obama at all costs shortly after he took office. Obama didn’t seem to grasp that and never called them out for their outrageous disregard for the welfare of the nation.

    The most chilling prospect is that a Romney presidency could give him the opportunity to put a couple of young conservatives on the Supreme Court. That will be impacting us long after any policy idiocy he can dream up has faded.

    We have got to ignite the enthusiasm of 2008 to beat back this assault by the tea party. The Republican demographic of old, white, rich people is fading, and even their efforts at voter suppression won’t stem that tide forever. We’ve got to get our base energized to take the Presidency, the House and to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Then we can actually be about the people’s business and not the business of promoting the aristocracy.

    1. Bunny August 20, 2012

      Will you let your comments be known on other sites ! PLEASE ! The word has to get out ! ! !

      1. olsondavid August 20, 2012

        I attempt to do that at every opportunity. Some sites, like CNN think these comments are “too partisan” and won’t post them. I think that many people have become numb to just how critical this is and have stopped thinking through a scenario with a Romney presidency. Suppression of thinking is one of the legs of the Republican strategy, along with voter suppression.

        Did you catch the news item about a month ago that the Republican legislature in Texas voted (over the objection of all of the Democrats) to remove critical thinking from the curriculum in the public schools throughout the state of Texas? Like voter suppression, this is part of their effort to maintain electoral viability in the face of a die-off of their prime constituency. Their strategy is to disenfranchise the Democratic base when possible, and to build a campaign that suckers many who would normally oppose the agenda of the aristocracy into voting for them by misinformation, bogus claims and now, at least in Texas, by downplaying the value of critical analysis of information. Following is just one example of the dangers of this, and illustrates “common sense” that practically no one thinks to challenge.

        The laughable contention that dropping tax rates on the “job creators” will somehow stimulate growth is in contradiction to data not only from this country, but from around the world. In fact, the exact opposite is what happens. Raising those rates actually results in economic growth. Probably the best American example is the pre-WWII recovery from the Great Depression. When top tax rates and government spending went up, the economy began a recovery that continued for years until the Republicans were able to drive those rates back down again. At that point the economy began to decline again, a decline that was only stopped when WWI broke out. These historical facts are easy to research and verify, but when many people are trained or conditioned to not think and to not verify and to not research (or are just too lazy to do so, or too ingrained in a world view that would be threatened with facts), it’s then easy to for them to be duped into voting against their own interests.

        Fear and ignorance are potent weapons in the Republican arsenal. It’s one that Democrats have to understand to be operating and must respond to. It’s odd that we’ve allowed our ideals to have kept us from winning elections. It would be great if we could have reasoned fact-based discussion on these issues, but it’s foolish to think this will happen in the world where tea party thinking dominates a sizable segment of our culture and where the aristocracy is allowed to make unlimited donations to super PACs to encourage that.

        We can’t make policy if we refuse to respond because it would somehow make us dirty like the Swift-Boaters and lose the elections. We can’t appoint justices to the Supreme Court who might think that all the votes in Florida really should be counted.

        Democrats have a history of trying to take the high road and losing the elections. John Kerry lost, Al Gore lost,, Michael Dukakis, in large part because they were unwilling to confront the nonsense the Republicans were spewing. That has the effect of passivating our base.


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