Republicans have already gone through the five stages of grief over Paul Ryan in the week since he was chosen to be the Little John to Mitt's Romney Hood, but their outsized emotions seem to have been a waste of energy. Romney's standing in the polls is … exactly the same as it was prior to the "game-changing" announcement. It seems that, just as history and political science teach us, the veep isn't going to determine the fate of the 2012 presidential election—much to Bill Kristol's chagrin.
But, Paul Ryan's biggest effect will likely be seen in down-ballot races. Upstate New York proves a perfect example of how Ryan's infamous budget plan, which Romney pronounced"marvelous," could be a boon to Democrats out of their element in the older-voter-skewing Republican part of the state. Bill Owens, a Democratic representative in the 21st District, was swept into office under the luckiest of circumstances in a 2009 special election when his Republican opponent dropped out and endorsed him in lieu of a third-party challenger with a Tea Party-esque platform. In 2012, facing tough campaign conditions and a constituency morphed by redistricting, he might have a lucky charm again. His opponent, Matt Doheny, who called the Ryan pick "exciting," is already getting slammed by the Owens campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. If there's one thing that might have elderly Upstate residents voting blue, it's the fear of losing Medicare benefits.
The same dynamic is at play, except with a Republican playing the role of incumbent, in the 19th District, Kirsten Gillibrand's old stomping ground. GOP Representative Chris Gibson is currently ahead of his opponent in the polls, but his lead has been dropping and challenger Julian Schreibman has begun railing against his support for the Ryan plan. There are larger political forces at play in these elections—redistricting has left Owens with a more Republican district, while Gibson's district is drifting far enough from the North Country to turn a bluer tinge—but you can expect the Democratic candidates to milk the Ryan plan for all it's worth, and potentially reap far larger benefits than Medicare scare tactics on the national stage.
So They Say
"You have to understand is that Mitt is honest, his integrity is, is just golden."
—Ann Romney, defending her husband's stance on not releasing more tax returns.
Daily Meme: Vetting Ryan's Abs
- It's been nearly a week since the Wisconsin congressman joined the Republican ticket, and although we don't know much more about his and Romney's views on Medicare, we do know a lot about the country's views on his body.
- The day he was vaulted to the second-highest spot in the GOP, the second-highest Google search for him was "Paul Ryan shirtless."
- Why the fascination? Might have more to do with his being a believer in P90X more than being a believer in objectivism and gutting Medicare.
- But, alas, no shirtless pictures were to be found. Clearly Ryan has been more reticent than the "Weiner-gate man."
- But this story wasn't exhausted yet. If we couldn't report on Ryan's six-pack, we could at least report on the bad sartorial habits shrouding it...
- ... a turn of events that led Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin to applaud him for not appealing to "the Anna Wintour set" and being cheap.
- After this tangent, was it time to talk Medicare? Of course not—it was time for pictures of other shirtless politicians! (Warning: Links do include photos of shirtless Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.)
- And it was time for discussion of the Ryan widow's peak, and for the making of GIFs.
- But, after a week of tireless reporting, voila! The only public shirtless Ryan in existence, courtesy of, who else, TMZ. But (sigh) it's six years old.
- Will we finally get down to business on Ryan's record next week now that his looks and charm have been fully vetted? Perhaps. Or we might just go on looking for that post-P90X shirtless picture that surely must exist.
What We're Writing
- Abby Rapoport: Not only has Pennsylvania instituted harsh voter suppression measures, they've also shut down ways to boost registration for all voters.
- Paul Waldman: The country is getting the election it deserves.
What We're Reading
- Omar's coming (actually he canceled, but other Wire cast members showed up for an Obama fundraiser in Martha's Vineyard).
- Michelle Obama is starting to warm up to—or at least has learned to deal with—the campaign trail.
- Paul Ryan, bucking his running mate's chilly relations with the press, bought a reporter a hot dog for his birthday yesterday.
- Time to start thinking about politics when you're debating where to spend your lunch hour.
- Adam Serwer goes deep on the politics of the FRC shooting.
- Tom Morello rages against Paul Ryan.
- A former Ayn Rand lover writes that objectivism is "something that’s best left contemplated in high school bedrooms and debates late at night in college dorm rooms."
- Obama's super power of choice? "If it's like an Avengers super power, then I think the whole flying thing is pretty good ... Yeah, you can't beat just swooping around."
Poll of the Day
Looks like Michiganders don't automatically have fond associations for anyone with the last name Romney. Barack Obama still leads the Midwesterner state by a comfortable margin, topping Willard M. Romney 49 to 44 percent in a new Mitchell Research poll.
For more polling information, go to the Prospect’s 2012 election map.