I’m posting at the Economist today with a short piece on the timing of the Ryan announcement which, as I’ve noted before, is the second earliest relative to the start of a candidate’s nominating convention since 1976. While it is tempting to attribute the timing of Romney’s announcement of the Ryan pick to his sliding polling numbers (if, in fact they were sliding!), I think something more fundamental is at work here. Simply put, campaigns are unfolding at a quicker pace, particularly with the expected increase in early voting which may reach 35% or more nationally, and which in some battleground states could go even higher, to 70% or more according to some estimates. And, as one Economist reader commented, by announcing the Ryan pick early Romney may be seeking to accelerate his fundraising so that’s he’s ready to spend the money that becomes eligible for him to use in the post-convention period. And, indeed, there’s some evidence that there’s been a fundraising windfall since Ryan’s pick was announced.
Meanwhile, Romney and Ryan went on 60 Minutes last Sunday as their first major joint media venture and, much as I expected, Romney was quick to dispel any notion that he’s running on the Ryan budget plan: “Well, I have my budget plan as you know that I’ve put out. And that’s the budget plan that we’re going to run on. At the same time, we have the record of President Obama. If people think, by the way, that their utility bill has gone down, they should vote for him. If they think jobs are more plentiful, they should vote for him.” Of course, Romney’s efforts are likely to have almost no impact on efforts by Obama surrogates to argue that he is in fact running on the Ryan plan – or to make him directly repudiate that plan. And that’s why I don’t think the Ryan pick is going to shift very many votes. It may, however, engage the Republican base a bit more, both in terms of early voting and fundraising.
I’ll be back here tomorrow with a post on the Fareed Zakaria situation.