David Frum

11.08.12

When You Can't Run As a Moderate in 2012...

Noam Sheiber is correct to laugh off those who describe Paul Ryan as the GOP's savior:

[D]uring the brief moment this summer when Ryan was prominently featured in the campaign—the window the Ingrahams of the world now pine for—his presence only made Romney less appealing to seniors and less credible on Medicare, depressing his margins in swing states. Not long after Ryan joined the ticket in August, a Quinnipiac poll showed Obama leading Romney on the question of who would better handle Medicare by 8 points in Florida and 10 points in Ohio. After a few weeks of Ryan charming voters with his budgetary dreaminess, the poll showed Obama leading Romney on the issue by 15 points in Florida and 16 points in Ohio. In a similar vein, Quinnipiac showed Obama struggling mightily with older voters back in August—down 13 points in Florida and 8 points in Ohio among people over 65. By late September, Obama was up 4 among seniors in Florida and 1 in Ohio.

This development was even more damaging to Romney’s prospects than you might initially realize. That's because, even more so than previous GOP nominees, Romney was going to need huge margins among white voters to have any shot at winning. And elderly voters are one of the most reliably Republican groups of whites.

In uncertain times, voters want a leader who can be trusted to suitably manage essential programs. And it's quite clear they thought Mitt Romney's choice of a running mate was a clownish decision. Faced with demonization that he wanted to demolish the welfare state, Romney selected the guy who wrote the plan.

Fail.

But hey, don't take it from me. David's new ebook, WHY ROMNEY LOST, releases tomorrow. He explains it far better than my best efforts, so take it from him.