There's a general consensus that Mitt Romney's choice of House budget wonk Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate has shifted the trajectory and meaning of the 2012 race, making it more an election of ideas and differing visions of government than a simple referendum on President Obama. But ideas, no matter how bold, don't translate directly into electoral votes, the building blocks of presidential victories. Ryan's home state, Wisconsin, went heavily for Obama in 2008, though polls show it's a tighter contest this year. Can Ryan swing the Badger State and its 10 electoral votes over to the GOP side, helping Romney get to the magic 270?
Romney may have struck Badger gold: "Could Ryan really move Wisconsin into the toss-up column?" says Nate Cohn at The New Republic. "The short answer is: Yes." As Gov. Scott Walker's (R) recent recall victory shows, Wisconsinites are "clearly willing to support controversial conservative reformist politicians" like Ryan. And if Romney can pull neck-and-neck with Obama, Ryan could paint red not only his home state but also temperamentally similar Iowa. That's probably enough to send Romney to the White House.
"Ryan could move Wisconsin into the toss-up column"
Wisconsin is still Obama's to lose: Ryan does shift Wisconsin toward being a genuine tossup state, but he only boosts Romney's odds of winning the state to about 20 percent, from 12 percent, says Micah Cohen at The New York Times. Obama is still pretty popular in Wisconsin, and while Ryan will give Romney a jolt in his congressional district and in Milwaukee's conservative suburbs, it's unlikely his "Wisconsin roots will be enough to win over many Democrats in America's Dairyland."
"Could Ryan tip Wisconsin toward Romney?"
Ryan probably won't matter much either way: The real question "is not whether Ryan can help Romney" win Wisconsin, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post, "but rather whether Romney can get or keep the race close enough to allow Ryan to make a difference." And winning Wisconsin won't matter much if Romney loses Florida, where "Ryan's plan to overhaul Medicare isn't likely to be all that popular among the state's significant senior population." In all likelihood, though, Ryan will only be "a game-changer from a policy perspective," not in terms of reshaping the electoral map.
"How Paul Ryan impacts the electoral map. Or doesn't."