Nate Silver* on the desperation Mitt’s Ryan pick reflects:
“When a prudent candidate like Mitt Romney picks someone like Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, it suggests that he felt he held a losing position against President Obama. The theme that Mr. Romney’s campaign has emphasized for months and months — that the president has failed as an economic leader — may have persuaded 47 or 48 or 49 percent of voters to back him, he seems to have concluded. But not 50.1 percent, and not enough for Mr. Romney to secure 270 electoral votes.
“The forecast model I developed for FiveThirtyEight…estimated as of Friday that Mr. Obama was about a 70 percent favorite to win re-election.
“Conventional wisdom suggests that you play toward the center of the electorate, while various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
“[A] recent analysis I performed placed Mr. Ryan 10th among 14 potential vice-presidential picks in terms of his immediate impact on the Electoral College. If Mr. Romney wanted to make the best pick by this criterion he would have been better off choosing an alternative like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, or Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
“Mr. Ryan’s budget plan, which polls poorly, will obviously get much more attention. The fate of the presidential race and the fate of the Congressional races may become more closely tied together.
“Taking risks like these is not what you do if you think you already have a winning hand. But Mr. Romney, the turnaround artist, decided that he needed to turn around his own campaign.”
John McCain decided the same thing four years ago. His bold move backfired, as will Mitt’s.
* “The Rationale Behind an Audacious Move,” NYT