Editor’s note: Centre Government Professor Benjamin Knoll offers analysis of Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick.
* “Since Romney obviously didn't make the choice based purely on electoral math, it suggests that he wagered there were more advantages elsewhere for making a Ryan VP pick. Ryan is very popular with the conservative ideological base of the Republican party because of his now-famous budget proposals which include substantial cuts for domestic spending and complete overhauls of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
“This plan is popular with Tea Party conservatives but very unpopular with moderates. With this pick, Romney is indicating that he believes victory is more likely by motivating his conservative base rather than trying to persuade the middle.
“This is smart. Surveys indicate that most voters have already made up their mind. There really aren't that many independent, undecided, "swing" voters out there at this point.
“Romney's best shot at winning is to get those already inclined to vote for him, conservatives and Republicans, excited to turn out and vote this November... something that he's struggled with through this entire presidential campaign. Paul Ryan will help motivate and turn out the base in November.”
* “With this pick, Romney has decided to link himself to Paul Ryan's budget proposals. This makes the contrast of economic visions between Romney and Obama even starker, and it clearly focuses the election on economic, rather than social, issues.”
“Romney has decided to give voters an even clearer choice between two fundamentally different visions of the proper role of government in society.”
* Knoll correctly spotted the ticket’s historic potential before he or most media outlets had the chance to check their facts (it was within minutes of the announcement): It will be first time a major-party ticket will not include a protestant. Romney and Ryan are Mormon and Roman Catholic, respectively. Because Joe Biden is also Roman Catholic, President Barrack Obama is the only protestant on either major party ticket.
“This is a big step for religious diversity in the U.S., and it would be an even bigger step if we were to elect two individuals of historically minority and persecuted religious traditions as president and vice president.”