Political scientists haven’t been as quick as journalists to jump into the debate over whether Mitt Romney was wise in selecting Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. But a few academics who blog have chimed in.
John Sides of George Washington University is doubtful Romney made a good move, arguing on the Monkey Cage blog that while the Wisconsin congressman may indeed stoke the enthusiasm of hard-core conservatives, that’s not the dynamic Romney needs. He writes:
“Conservative Republicans are more enthusiastic, not less enthusiastic, than other Republicans. If Romney wants to engage in base mobilization, he should be focusing on the 27% of Republicans who self-identify as moderate or liberal.”
Matthew Dickinson of Middlebury College notes that, historically, the vice presidential candidate has very little impact on the outcome of a presidential election. He adds this thought, which runs somewhat counter to much of the press commentary:
“(Ryan) is in some ways a very safe pick: Ryan is well vetted, he plays to the base, and he is comfortable with wonk-speak and being on the national stage. So there’s not much risk that he will wander off the reservation and make a major gaffe. Keep in mind that the traditional VP candidate role is to play attack dog, so that the head of the ticket doesn’t have to. Ryan has already been performing in this role for some time, and has handled it well.”
Columbia University political scientist Brigitte Nacos finds some irony in Ryan being touted as the man with a plan to get the nation’s budget in order. She notes that, as a member of the House of Representatives, Ryan voted for two “major contributors to the budget deficit during the previous administration: the Medicare Part D prescription drug provision … and, of course, the Iraq War.”
She calls Ryan “a bright guy who knows the ins and outs of domestic policies better than, if not all of his peers. Never mind that he lacks experience in foreign and defense policy. He will never match the clueless utterings of his predecessor, Sarah Palin.”
Not the highest possible bar one could set, but arguably an apt one.