Wisconsin Republican insiders think U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is a visionary who will steer the presidential election toward discussions of the budget, and lead the GOP back into the White House.
Those are the main finding of this week’s "Red Wisconsin" Survey of 94 influential Republicans from around. These party leaders and activists were asked using an automated survey tool what they thought of the idea of a Paul candidacy. The survey was conducted just before .
There was a broad swell of enthusiasm for Paul and the budget ideas he’s associated with among the 71 GOP insiders surveys. A plurality of Wisconsin Republicans surveyed (46 percent) wanted Romney to pick Ryan, and 93 percent agreed that his budget plan, and particularly his proposal for Medicare, will become a major focus of the campaign.
Spotlight for a GOP Star
Many Wisconsin Republicans surveyed relished in Paul’s role as the standard bearer of the party’s budget policy.
As one Republican put it, “Romney is going to be tied to the Ryan budget, so it would be a big benefit to have Ryan himself to defend it.”
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Another said: “Entitlement reforms are the elephant in the room and everyone knows it. Paul Ryan has the plan, which has been passed twice by the House to address these issues. Entitlements and the economy will be the issues in the presidential campaign.”
They also expressed confidence not just in Paul’s policies, but his ability to explain them.
“His ability to truthfully communicate difficult budget numbers in a very serious, knowledgeable yet likeable manner," one insider said. "He is Ronald Reagan like in his communication style as well as holding to conservative principles.”
Besides their enthusiasm for Paul’s plan and they way he could sell it, many respondents relished the idea of a “young gun” campaigning.
“Paul Ryan represents the next generation,” one respondent said.
“I think there would be a real concern that Ryan would outshine Romney,” said another. “Just like rock bands never want the opening act to be better, a presidential candidate doesn't want the VP candidate to be getting more attention.”
Red Wisconsin respondents said their "rock star" would help Romney pick up more voters in Wisconsin in November: 35 percent thought he would add 2 percent to 4 percent to Romney’s Wisconsin numbers, and 37 percent predicted the choice would add 5 points or more. Five percent said the choice would make no difference in Wisconsin or would actually cost Romney some votes.
Insiders see few negatives
Asked to name possible downsides to a Ryan pick, many surveyed Republicans said they couldn’t see one.
More than two-thirds rejected the idea that Ryan “could help Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, but hurt Romney’s chances nationally.” The most popular worry was that a move to the White House would be a step down for the congressman.
“As chairman of the Joint Finance Committee and potential speaker of the House, Ryan can have far more impact than anything offered by the vice presidency,” one respondent said.
Other Republicans worried about the politics of a theoretical Ryan choice.
“I think the Dems would use his proposed reforms of Medicare and Social Security a controversial topic and they would scare the seniors — even though they are completely wrong," one said.
Five different respondents named Obama campaign commercials that would scare seniors as a disadvantage of a Ryan candidacy. One respondent predicted, “Obama ads with Romney and Ryan throwing grandmothers into a fiery pool of lava”
A few Republicans worried about a Romney-Ryan campaign ability in swing states. “He isn't diverse enough to bring in other demographic groups,” one said.
About Red Wisconsin
Our surveys are not a scientific random sample of any larger population but rather an effort to listen to a swath of influential local Republican activists, party leaders and elected officials in Wisconsin. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in the surveys, although not all responded to this week's questions. Surveys were conducted between Aug. 9 and Aug. 10. All responses were collected before news of Ryan’s selection were reported.
Patch will be conducting Red Wisconsin and Blue Wisconsin surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in the state. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in a weekly surveys that lasts just a few minutes, please email Mark Maley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants in Patch's Red Wisconsin Survey are:
Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin, former chief of staff for Assembly Republican Leader Jeff Fitzgerald; Bill Berdan, first vice chairman, Wauwatosa Republicans; Keith Best, public relations chairman for Waukesha County Republicans; Bob Bradley, party activist; Charles Brey, field director for state Assembly candidate Tracy Herron; Tracy Brodd, Republican campaign worker; Paul Bucher, former Waukesha County district attorney and candidate for Wisconsin attorney general; Roy Catron, Tea Party activist; Andrew Cegielski, former Milwaukee County Board candidate; Sara Conrad, party activist; Bill Cosh, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources; Michael Crowley, Waukesha County supervisor; Jake Curtis, former state Assembly candidate; Lou D'Abbraccio, board member, Racine County Republican Party; Brian Dey, Racine County Tea Party member; Fred Dooley, conservative blogger; Steven Duckhorn, former Republican candidate for Milwaukee County sheriff; Bill Folk, chairman of Racine County Republican Party;Elisabeth Friesen, Republican activist; Jesse Garza, chairman, St. Croix County Republican Party; Mark Green, senior director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania and former congressman; Chris Haines, longtime campaign volunteer and former GOP campaign manager; Deb Hawley Jordahl, conservative strategist and consultant; John Hiller, co-chair of Scott Walker's transition team as governor; Sandra Hollander, member of Mitt Romney's “Juntos con Romney” leadership team; Ethan Hollenberger, former chairman of the College Republicans at Marquette University and staff member on several legislative campaigns; Mark Honadel, state reprsentative, 21st District; Marguerite Ingold, party activist; Valerie Johnson, former GOP fundraiser and staffer for various campaigns; Thomas J. Keeley, political consultant; Scott Kelly, communications director for former state Sen. Van Wanggaard; Cindy Kilkenny, conservative blogger; Rik Kluessendorf, attorney and former state Assembly candidate; Dan Knodl, state representative, 24th District; Tif Koehler, campaign volunteer and civic leader; Johnny Koremenos, regional field director for Tommy Thompson campaign; Gordon Lang, member of North Shore Republicans; Chris Larsen, trustee in Village of Sturtevant Trustee; Noelle Lorraine, field coordinator for Americans for Prosperity; John P. Macy, first vice chairman of Waukesha County Republican Party; Kathleen Madden, Waukesha County Clerk of Circuit Court; Ginny Marschman, party activist; Jessica McBride, conservative columnist; Bill McCoshen political consultant and; former cabinet secretary for Gov. Tommy Thompson; Joe Medina, party activist; Randy Melchert, field director for Mark Neumann's campaign; Gerald Mellone, Brookfield alderman; Ryan Morgan, conservative blogger; Dean Munday, conservative blogger; Mark Neumann, U.S. Senate candidate and former congressman; Kelly O'Brien, founder of Shorewood Citizens for Responsible Government; Eric Wm. Olsen, conservative activist; Nick Oliver, state Assembly candidate, 22nd District; Victoria Ostry, treasurer of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women.; Rick Owen, Brookfield alderman; Monnine Parnitzke, party activist; Steve Ponto, mayor of Brookfield; Don Pridemore, state representative, 99th District; Paris Procopis, grassroots activist; Jim Pugh, director of public relations and issue management for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce; Denise Rate, Tea Party member; Bob Reddin, Brookfield alderman and executive director, Jobs First Coalition; Pam Reeves, treasurer, Waukesha County Republicans; Joe Rice, former county supervisor and member of North Shore Republicans Executive Committee; Nate Ristow, candidate for 13th District State Assembly; Brandon Rosner, Wisconsin Republican consultant; Bill Savage, aide to state Rep. Don Pridemore and officer of Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association; Jim Schaefer, Muskego-Norway School Board president; Josh Schimek, conservative blogger; JB Schmidt, conservative blogger; Christian Schneider, senior fellow at Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and former policy analyst for Wisconsin State Legislature; Ashley Schultz, state director of the Recall Action Fund; Nick Schweitzer, Libertarian pundit and blogger; Tim Schwister, former State Assembly candidate; Dan Sebring, vice chairman, Milwaukee County Republicans and candidate for 4th Congressional District; Cathy Stepp, Wisconsin Natural Resources secretary and former state senator; Jeff Stone, state representative, 82nd District; Jonathan Strasburg, attorney; Dave Swarthout, board member, 1st Congressional District Republicans; Charles Sykes, conservative talk show host for WTMJ Radio; Steve Taylor, Milwaukee County supervisor; Jenny Toftness, executive director of the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee; Greg Torres, Jefferson County supervisor; Jim Villa, former chief of staff to County Executive Scott Walker and Alberta Darling; current CEO of Commercial Association of REALTORS® Wisconsin; Robin Vos, state representative; 63rd District; Dan Vrakas, Waukesha County Executive; Yash Wadhwa, former State Assembly candidate; Jeff Wagner, conservative talk show host, WTMJ Radio; Tom Weatherston, candidate for 62nd Assembly District and Village of Caledonia trustee; Steve Welcenbach, head of the Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association and Tea Party activist; Todd Welch, Wisconsin state coordinator at Campaign for Liberty; James Wigderson, conservative blogger and columnist for Waukesha Freeman; Eddie Willing, conservative columnist in Racine County and executive director of FoundersIntent.org; Chris Wright, Sturtevant village trustee and former candidate for State Assembly; Phil Ziegler, CEO of InPro Inc. and party activist.