By choosing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney picked up an asset to help him win the Badger State, but some analysts say Ryan could also potentially benefit Romney in the crucial swing state of Ohio.
As a fellow Midwesterner, “Ryan can evoke midwestern values,” emailed Trey Grayson, director of the Harvard University Institute of Politics.
Trey Hardin, a Republican strategist and senior vice president at Vox Global, said that Ryan’s Midwestern roots would help the ticket throughout the Midwest – not just in Ohio and Wisconsin, but also in Pennsylvania, a state that has gone to the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992 but some Republican strategists hope could be a swing state this cycle.
“It’s just a matter of being able to relate,” said Hardin.
Moreover, Ryan helps balance the ticket in a way that could be an asset for Romney given Ohio’s demographics.
“Being Catholic,” Grayson noted, “will help him appeal to the many Catholic swing voters in Ohio.”
Former Republican Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell agreed.
“Paul Ryan will directly take on Obama’s attack on religious liberty and America’s job creators,” he said. “He will move the needle in Ohio with Catholics and social conservatives. Paul’s blue-collar background will balance the ticket.”
But Ryan also has a direct connection to the state: he attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, graduating in 1992 with a degree in economics and politics.
Delivering the commencement address at his alma mater in 2009, Ryan told the graduates:
I remember my own transformative experience here quite well. … It is here at Miami that I was able to find myself. I found a sense of direction, and a sense of identity. The incredible people that shaped me here – friends, faculty, mentors, they have left an indelible mark that I’ll forever be grateful for. It was here that I fell in love with economics and public policy. And six years after graduating I got elected to Congress.
It is a sentiment likely to be oft repeated over the course of the election, as the Romney campaign attempts to win over voters in the state.
The college connection could certainly be a jumping off point for conversation when in Ohio, Grayson said.
“It does give Ryan and Romney something to talk about when in Ohio. And in Columbus they can refer to Big Ten values since Wisconsin and OSU are in Big Ten,” he explained.
But the potential drawbacks of putting Ryan on the ticket might be exacerbated in Ohio.
“The risk … is that white working class voters in Ohio are the swing voters, and they might be most worried about Medicare and Social Security,” Grayson cautioned, referring to Ryan’s entitlement-reforming House budget.
Democrats, Grayson added, are hoping for exactly that.
But the choice of Ryan, said political strategist Charlie Arlinghaus, is not about helping sway different groups or win particularly states. Rather, he explained, it’s about a new “narrative.”
“I think the Ryan pick is less about regional exceptions and more about a national narrative,” emailed Arlinghaus.
“With Ryan, Romney has gone for a ‘fixing the problem’ narrative by adding the guy who forces other politicians to focus on doing something rather than their natural on libation to punt.”
“It either helps everywhere or nowhere,” he concluded.