Spoiler alert for anyone who is still ignoring the Presidential race, Republican Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan (a Representative from Wisconsin) as his running mate in the 2012 elections (and President Barack Obama and Joe Biden work out some kinks). The battle has already begun as each campaign has pivoted from talking about the economy to talking about how their opponent will cut Medicare to the bone and leave millions of seniors without health care options. If talking about Social Security and Medicare is the third rail of American politics, then the best way to describe the current atmosphere is be to say that the candidates are trying to push their opponents onto the track.
In the Red Corner, you've got Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity, a "radical" budget which eases off the accelerator enough that the US would catch up to its widening deficit in the 2030s. In the Blue Corner, you've got the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (so-called "Obamacare") which cut $700 billion in future Medicaid spending (which is sort of like you saying you will spend less money in a year than you previously wanted to do). The Blue charge? Republican are coming to push Granny down the stairs! The Red Charge? Democrats have already pushed Granny down the stairs, and gravity is starting to take its toll. Toss in a little "well, he did it first" and you've got the trappings of an interesting Political Season!
Ryan's Cachet with Seniors
Before the Ryan pick, most political commentary has concentrated on things like Mitt Romney's effective tax rates and Mitt Romney's IRA. Post-Ryan? The aforementioned race to label the other guy a Granny-pusher. Of course, how the macro race is labeled is a big deal... there are some indications of inside the beltway Republican indigestion, and over the weekend there was some confident predictions on the Democratic side that "The Republicans just ceded Florida". (More charitable observers said "Traded an in-play Florida for an in-play Wisconsin"). Implied, of course, is Ryan's plan has made him public enemy number 1 of the retired or soon-to-be crowd, a staple of Florida. Does that view hold up to the spotlight?
Not at all, as it turns out. I found only two polls on the subject taken post-Ryan-VP, and another 'classic' poll before the race which might tell us something. The three polls are from Rasmussen, ABC News/Washington Post, and Gallup. First up, here's the two Senior 'approval rating' polls on Paul Ryan:
|Poll Name||Approve||Disapprove||Voter Type|
As you can see, there is heavy Ryan approval from the senior set, at least if these two polls tell us anything. On the 'seasoned' poll side the question was about whether the Ryan plan or the Obama plan was a better plan for dealing with the national debt. (It was taken in 2011 and the Path to Prosperity was first released in 2009) The numbers for the 65+ crowd? 48%/42% for Ryan/Obama, with 10% unknown. Perhaps the electricity in the third rail is turned off?
On 'Common Knowledge'
The absurdity of the oft-stated 'facts' that get repeated by beltway insiders and journalists is pretty ridiculous when a third rate writer on a site with a confusing url can debunk statements with 5 minutes on Google. Just because you hear something on TV doesn't mean it's correct - and even if it has been correct in the past, it doesn't mean that it will be the same in the future. We only have so many elections to base our 'common political knowledge' on, so again, beware of silly information masquerading as common sense. Things only stay the same until they don't.
However, there is one thing that we know will be true when the election comes to a close: the losing side will get a label as a poorly run campaign, while the winning campaign will be remembered as brilliant.
What's your reaction to the Paul Ryan pick? Who pushed Granny down the stairs/over the cliff/onto the tracks? Are you paying attention yet?