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The Paul Ryan Bump in Four Swing States

by Michael Higham, published

Not another Paul Ryan story! Those in-tune with the political debate might be thinking that, but the selection does pose an interesting dynamic.

Since he was selected as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, his work and record have been under scrutiny. Some experts say the selection has helped solidify what the Republican ticket will stand for. Some experts say the selection still confuses the partisan debate. Whether or not either is true, substantive policy debates are awaiting. Four key swing states have been polled regarding the potential Republican Vice President: Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia.

This month's PurplePoll surveyed the four states. The study shows that Gov. Mitt Romney has gained ground in Ohio and Virginia, states that have been going back-and-forth between candidates. The Republican ticket has a 2% advantage in Ohio and a 3% advantage in Virginia. Both numbers are improvements from July's poll numbers. However, Florida and Colorado have slightly swung in President Obama's favor since the Ryan announcement. The Democratic ticket is leading by 3% in Colorado, and trailing by 1% in Florida compared to 3% last month.

Support looks solid within party lines. Mobilization is the key for both parties in maximizing their turnout. An interesting string of findings can be found in the opinion of Independents. The PurplePoll had this to say in their analysis:

The Romney-Ryan ticket is fueled by an 11-point advantage among independents. This represents an increase from July, when Romney held a 5-point margin over Obama among that key group.

If we look at the four states in the survey, we see Independents leaning towards the GOP ticket in three of them. The Republican duo has a 5-point lead in Colorado, a 9-point lead in Virginia, and a 22-point lead in Ohio among Independents. President Obama and Vice President Biden have a 12-point lead among Floridian Independents.

When it comes to the perception of our economy, states that say the economy is getting worse are likely to support the Republican ticket. Of the four states in the survey, Florida showed the lowest percentage of Independents seeing the economy as getting worse (38%). Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia Independents have an unfavorable perception of the economy at 41%, 52%, and 45% respectively. Independents trust the GOP ticket at 48% favorable to 34% unfavorable (46% favorable to 43% unfavorable overall) with their plan to "reduce the deficit, create jobs, and get the economy moving again".

Things change when the issue to protect Medicare is brought up. President Obama and Vice President Biden have an 8-point advantage in the Medicare debate overall and a 2-point advantage among Independents.

The margin of error in the PurplePoll is +/- 4.0% in the four state surveys.

To add significance to the Paul Ryan bump, his home state of Wisconsin has turned into a close battleground state. A CNN poll, conducted after the Republican VP selection, now shows President Obama at a 4-point lead. Two CNN polls prior to the VP announcement showed that President Obama was at a 14-point lead.

The Huffington Post also looked at the significance of the VP selection and incorporated the August PurplePoll. Mark Blumenthal concluded that the selection did little to impact the Presidential race. He states that party conventions that will take place in the coming weeks will be much more important.

The history of presidential elections polling trends shows that the two party conventions often bring about not only fleeting bumps for each candidate, but sometimes also make a lasting change in voter preferences. So the small bump for Ryan -- if there is a bump -- may be less important than the net impact of the next three to four weeks.

Blumenthal also uses this chart from Gallup to look at the past significance of the Vice Presidential announcement,

Credit: Gallup

While these numbers may show the effects of a Vice Presidential choice, the Romney-Ryan dynamic is still in its infancy. There will probably be more dramatic shifts in public opinion as policy debates begin and party conventions take place. As Romney and Ryan start to form policy goals and begin substantive talks, the numbers and opinions will change. Perhaps the candidates need to know where they stand with the public before they begin forming policy.

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