The political whiz kids at the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog are reporting that Paul Ryan’s elevation to the national ticket has significantly improved Republicans’ chances of Romney winning in neighboring Wisconsin this November. In fact, chances have almost doubled.
But before folks get too excited about that, they should look more closely at the prognostication. Before the Ryan announcement, FiveThirtyEight put the odds of Romney winning Wisconsin at 12%. Post-Ryan announcement, Romney’s chances rose to 20%. Here’s their reasoning:
Those improved odds are based on a two percentage point bonus that the model accounts for in the home state of each vice-presidential candidate — the average bump that a running mate has added since 1920, according to a previous FiveThirtyEight analysis.
But the effect a vice-presidential candidate has had on his or her home state has varied widely. Is there any inherent aspect to Wisconsin’s political geography that might provide clues as to whether Mr. Ryan will have a larger, or smaller, impact on the Nov. 6 vote in Wisconsin?
Mr. Ryan has not represented an overwhelmingly conservative district. It has leaned slightly to the right, but Mr. Obama was able to carry the First District in 2008, albeit, with just 51 percent of the vote. Winning a district doesn’t earn you any points if you lose the state, but Mr. Ryan’s ability to win easily in a not-so-easy area suggests that he has some skill in winning over a skeptical audience — at least in Wisconsin.
Both Gov. Scott Walker and Mr. Obama have net positive approval ratings in Wisconsin. That suggests that there is a group of true independent voters in the state, who can be influenced to vote for either Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama…
In other words, moving up to 20 percent is real improvement. Wisconsin is no longer in the “snowball’s chance in Hell” category for Romney. It’s now more like snowball’s chance in Packers Training Camp,” which merely feels like Hell to Minnesotans.