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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Vindicating Paul Ryan

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Months before she beclowned herself as an Obama surrogate cum debate moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley declared that the selection of Paul Ryan for VP revealed a sort of "death wish" by Republicans.  Within the media/liberal bubble, her analysis was widely embraced, with some pundits suggesting that Romney had thrown away both Florida and the senior vote throughout the swing states. 

"Stunning, terrible!" fumed Michael Tomasky. "Ryan Pick could hurt Romney in Florida," Reuters wishfully headlined. 

"Did Romney Just Give Away Florida?" hopefully asked Emily Bazelon in Slate, noting that the Ryan pick "risks scaring off elderly people worried about protecting their entitlements."

But a week out from the election, a strange silence has fallen over the anti-Ryan punditry. 

Recent polls show Romney leading in Florida. And the demographic breakdown of the polls suggests that the predictions of senior-flight were highly exaggerated. Actually, completely wrong.

Consider this breakdown from Gallup (it's a bit old, but Rasmussen reports a similar demographic breakdown): 

Assuming the numbers hold through election day (always a dicey proposition), senior citizens are poised to be the Romney/Ryan ticket's strongest demographic. Despite the Mediscare offensive, Romney holds a 56-44 lead among voters 65 and older. 

This is actually 4 points larger than the edge McCain had among seniors in 2008. If Romney/Ryan wins the senior demographic by 12 points, that will not only be a landslide in that age group, but a rather convincing vindication of Ryan's policies. (And obviously positions Ryan well for 2016 if the ticket should fall short.)

Ryan has consistently argued that his entitlement reforms would not affect current retirees, but would kick in for voters 55 and younger. What about that demographic? Obama won 50-64 year olds by a solid 8 points in 2008. 

But Romney/Ryan has erased that edge, with the two candidates running even.

So what about the heavy breathing punditry of the late summer and early fall? It makes for interesting reading to go back and read the feigned excitement of the left as they contemplated turning Ryan into Romney's albatross. But as with so many other things in this campaign, that scenario has not played out as they had hoped.

2008 vs. 2012 Likely Voter Preference for President

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