Five more reasons Mitt Romney (and Paul Ryan) will lose Wisconsin
Back in June, I wrote a blog post titled “Five reasons why Mitt Romney will lose Wisconsin.” Of course, this was before Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate, putting our state back in play and forcing me into a shame spiral unlike any I’ve experienced since I cashed out my 401(k) to invest in Pets.com and a thoroughbred race horse that turned out to be a lame, partially blind insurance actuary named Mr. Bojangles.
While the cynical electoral calculus that often goes into VP choices seemed to take a backseat to the excitement Romney figured he’d generate by choosing the charismatic Ryan, back in August I thought the selection would be enough to tilt a wobbly state, and its 10 electoral votes, into the GOP column.
Now I’m not so sure. So, ignoring the timeless wisdom of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan, I’m going to dive back into the prognosticators’ pool and double down on my original prediction. Here are five more reasons I think Romney will do a November face-plant on the rich, pine-scented loam of the Badger State.
1. The polls say he will: Several polls from the last week and a half put Obama up anywhere from three to 14 points in Wisconsin. The Marquette University poll, which accurately predicted Scott Walker’s final margin of victory in the June recall election, gives Obama a whopping 14-point edge. (I’d be shocked if Obama’s margin of victory came anywhere near that, but it’s still instructive.) For whatever reason, the shine clearly seems to be coming off the Romney-Ryan ticket in our state.
2. Mitt Romney’s brain: Back in June, I wrote, “At some point, Romney’s bound to visit Wisconsin and say something weirdly out of touch.” I guess I forgot that we live in a world with instant global communication and somewhat more cell phone cameras than clueless plutocrats. Turns out there was no need for Romney to visit the Midwest to add a dose of ethanol to his finely tuned gaffe machine. In the political equivalent of a cell phone celebrity upskirt photo, Romney was famously caught on video saying, “There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them ….” And so on.
As part of its response, the Romney campaign seized on a video of Barack Obama saying, “I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level.” Of course, among the other people who believe or have believed in redistribution are Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and pretty much every politician since the founding of the republic. Redistribution is what government does. Try finding a government expenditure that isn’t redistributive. Incidentally, this way of thinking goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers. In fact, Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.”
If you truly want to rail against redistribution, you have to believe in one of two things: either no government at all or a tax system in which Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pay the same amount – not the same rate – as your drunk, unemployed nephew. So everyone kick in a thousand bucks and we’ll call it a day. Does that work for you?
3. Paul Ryan, the Potemkin candidate: The image of Ryan the GOP would like to project is that of a self-made, scrupulously honest good ol’ Wisconsin boy and Packers fan who gets the middle class and who has made a serious proposal to hold government’s fiscal feet to the fire.
His veneer of probity was largely washed away, however, with a fib-filled Republican National Convention speech – one that the national media, to their credit, dissected with gusto (see here and here, for example). Bill Clinton’s bracing Democratic National Convention speech also alerted many people to the misleading claims Ryan and Romney had been making.
And Ryan’s hardly your typical middle-class working stiff. As the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets noted, Ryan comes from a wealthy and well-connected family.
As for his reputation as a deficit hawk with a serious plan to decrease the national debt? No one who’s actually looked at the numbers really takes that seriously.
And is he really a Packers fan? Judge for yourself.
(Okay, we can give him a pass on that last one. This is politics, after all. And Obama is a Bears fan, which I would argue is worse than being a socialist. Then again, waving around a totem of an NFL rival will not help you connect with voters in Ashwaubenon – and having rock-hard, six-pack abs is almost guaranteed to turn them off. This is belly-fat country, son.)
4. George W. Bush: In 2008, George W. Bush finally lost a presidential election – for John McCain. Obama wisely ran against the outgoing president rather than the official nominee. While running against Bush is certainly more difficult now than it was four years ago, Dubya’s fingerprints are still all over this economy. And Romney and Ryan, Bush’s ideological heirs, are busy dipping their digits in PB&J as we speak. People have short memories, but they’re not that short. And Scott Walker’s tepid record on job creation can’t be helping Romney in Wisconsin, either.
5. Women: While lots of man-crushing males think Paul Ryan is absolutely dreamy, many women find him nightmarish. As TheDailyBeast.com reported, “He believes ending a pregnancy should be illegal even when it results from rape or incest, or endangers a woman’s health. He was a cosponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a federal bill defining fertilized eggs as human beings, which, if passed, would criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.”
So in Paul Ryan’s ideal world, a girl who is raped by her uncle and is unlucky enough to get pregnant as a result is simply out of luck.
Last I checked, there are a lot of women in Wisconsin, many of whom are to the left of Ryan on reproductive issues, some of whom are true Packers fans, and a significant minority of whom – thankfully – prefer a much flabbier man who is 100% certain he’s not a world-class marathon runner. They could be just enough to tilt the election Obama’s way.
It could be close, but I stand by my original prediction. Obama-Biden in a squeaker.
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