Vice presidential picks don’t typically swing elections one way or the other, the conventional wisdom goes, but a recent poll suggests that the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) could boost the Republican ticket in Wisconsin.
A survey conducted by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) in early July — before Mitt Romney made his pick — showed President Barack Obama besting the presumptive Republican nominee in Wisconsin, 50 percent to 44 percent. The 6-point lead served as breathing room for the president after the race had tightened in the Badger State earlier in the summer.
Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) triumph in the June recall election gave Republicans a shot in the arm, prompting speculation that the state was in play. Democrats have carried Wisconsin in every presidential election since 1984, but even the Obama campaign seemed to take notice of the GOP’s momentum there, listing the state as a toss-up in June.
The PollTracker Average currently shows Obama leading Romney in Wisconsin, 50 percent to 45.5. percent.
PPP’s survey showed that Ryan’s presence on the ballot could cement Wisconsin as a battleground state. In a hypothetical match-up pitting Obama and Vice President Joe Biden against Romney and Ryan, the Republican ticket trailed by only 1 point, 47 percent to 46 percent. The poll also showed that 44 percent of Wisconsin voters held a favorable view of the House Budget Committee chairman, while 39 percent viewed him unfavorably. Only 18 percent had no opinion of Ryan — impressive statewide name recognition for a congressman and a reflection of his national stature.
Ryan was conservatives’ dream pick because of his sweeping budget plan, but he could move the needle electorally in his home state in a way other potential running mates could not. Some supporters lobbied for Romney to team up with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) because of the possibility that he could tilt the perennial swing state of Ohio into the Republican column. But a separate PPP survey in late June showed that Portman did nothing to improve Romney’s prospects in the Buckeye State.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.