Ryan injects life into race, closes gap in swing states

With a little over two months before the election, Democrats are looking like a caricature of an anxious father waiting in the emergency room for his wife to deliver their child.

He’s pacing up and down the corridors, taking nervous drags from his cigarette and any noise or shift around him snaps his neck toward it, as if the doctor could come at any moment with the news.

“Why is it taking so long?” they must be wondering.

An incumbent president who, despite his atrocious job approval numbers, has a high likeability rating, not to mention overwhelming support from the liberal elite, shouldn’t be having to struggle against a guy no one really likes and his new running mate who a large portion of America (incorrectly) thinks is trying to single-handedly lead seniors to the proverbial slaughter.

Yet, according to Real Clear Politics, Obama’s electoral lead – based on state polling data – is a mere 46 votes.

Polling data out of Nevada and New Hampshire make that lead more like 56 votes.

But Paul Ryan’s entrance into this fight, despite coalescing the progressive left, has also brought the margin in swing states to the razor’s edge.

RCP has Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida all for Obama at this point, but that’s based on their average dating back to the end of July.

Recent polling data – that is, data coming from after Ryan’s announcement as VP –  shows Romney with slight leads (inside the error margin) in Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.

Given that these numbers are still inside the error margin, it can hardly be considered a major win, but what you are seeing is a shift in momentum.

The president appeared to be running away with the election in mid-summer as Romney’s numbers fell amid a slew of specious allegations from the left and a barrage of classist ads from the Obama camp, aimed at stirring vitriol from the working class over Romney’s wealth.

If we give Obama Colorado where his lead has remained intact (although has shrunk to a mere 1% average), the president is up to 256 electoral votes.

That means the GOP would have to carry basically every other toss-up state in order to win the election. The numbers suggest that might actually be possible

Romney, on the other hand appears to be holding off Obama in North Carolina, although his lead is equally untenable at 1%.

If we give the GOP North Carolina, Romney is up to 206.

The latest polls in Iowa showed Romney with a 2% lead as of August 8, which was right before Paul Ryan was announced as part of the ticket and Iowa is a notoriously difficult state to predict.

(Interestingly, Missouri has been on the side of every presidential winner since 1904 with just two exceptions and Romney’s lead is currently 6.3% with leads around double digits for much of the summer. It’ll be important to see how this latest GOP senate race gaffe will affect that lead)

Ohio remains a toss-up, although Romney was ahead 2% in the most recent polling. Florida is much the same, although two separate polls in Florida have the GOP leading by 1-2 points.

Mitt currently leads in Virginia by 3 points, and there are indications that the former Republican stronghold which went for Obama in 2008, will once again be red in 2012.

Paul Ryan was treated to a hero’s welcome in Virginia and Romney won the primary by appealing to conservative voters.

If you throw out polls at 1% margin or smaller, you lose Colorado, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Romney would get Florida and Ohio, along with Virginia and Iowa.

That leaves the race at 256-247 in favor of Mitt Romney with Colorado’s 9 electoral votes, Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes and North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes hanging in the balance.

Of those three states, Romney is leading in Wisconsin and North Carolina as of the latest data and Obama is leading in Colorado, so while the firm states are solidly in Obama’s camp, the toss-ups appear to be leaning in Mitt Romney’s favor.

This all can, and will likely change, but it gives us an idea of where the race stands right now and the direction it appears to be moving.

Remember one important thing, though, about the Paul Ryan effect: Sara Palin gave John McCain a temporary boost in 2008, where McCain actually overtook Obama in the polls only to lose in a landslide.

Ryan is not the same liability that Palin was, but he’s nonetheless vulnerable to criticism.

On the other hand, his bold budget proposals and charisma could actually strengthen some of these toss-up states, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin (which recently elected and then re-elected a GOP governor) and perhaps other Midwest states like Ohio and Iowa.

Those anxious, pacing Democrats may end up getting to see their child soon, but given the numbers they may find it looks like the milkman.

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