With his selection of Paul Ryan as his runningmate, Mitt Romney's chances of winning Pennsylvania have gone from slim to none.
The problem with Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, is that he is a base candidate, not a reach candidate.
While he may solidify Romney's standing among the conservative Republican base, he does nothing to help the Republican presidential candidate reach out to independent/moderate voters. And Romney needs those voters to win in Pennsylvania.
This is not Indiana. Registered Republicans constitute only 37 percent of the electorate (3.1 million in the latest count). Democrats equal 50 percent (4.1 million). There are another 1 million people registered as independents or members of other parties (13%).
Even assuming that all Republicans vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket, it needs independent and Democratic votes to win the state.
Ryan is not going to deliver that vote. He is an affable, intelligent, articulate ideologue from the rightwing. On economic matters, he is to the right of Rick Santorum. It is not easy to be to the right of Rick Santorum.
While he may boost the Republican margin in central Pennsylvania by several points, I do not see him helping Romney at all in the Philadelphia suburbs. And Romney needs to win - or come close to it - in those suburban counties in order to have any chance of winning Pennsylvania.
In 2008, Barack Obama won Pennsylvania by 14 points over John McCain. Obama emerged from the eight-county Philadelphia media market (Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties) with a margin of 740,000 votes. Just to be clear. That was not Obama's vote total. That was his margin.
The Philadelphia market constitutes 42 percent of the statewide electorate. It is anchored by Philadelphia, which is so blue it is purple. Obama won Philadelphia with 83 percent of the vote in the city four years ago.
He will win by close to that margin this year - especially when voters get revved up after being hammered with what shall henceforth by called the Romney/Ryan agenda: an end to Social Security and Medicare as we know it, deep cuts in safety net programs and education, tax cuts for the rich, etc. Though his vote margin probably will be cut by the Voter ID law, which targets poor and minority voters.
In Philadelphia, Ryan will mobilize the base. Alas, for the Republicans it will be the Democratic base.
But what about the suburbs? They have been trending Democratic in the last 20 years, but Republicans still can and do win there.
Ironically, had Romney run on his record as governor of Massachusetts (pro-business but moderate on economic issues, moderate/liberal on social issues) he would be an ideal suburban candidate - in the mold of Tom Ridge, Dick Thornburgh, John Heinz, Dick Schweiker, etc. As it turned out, it's the same model that fit Democrat Ed Rendell like a glove.
But, the former Massachusetts moderate tried his best to morph into a conservative during the arduous Republican primary campaign. Ironically, while he succeeded in convincing Democrats and independents of his conservative creds, he failed to convince Republican conservatives, who suspected he was just mouthing the words but was, somewhere in the darkest recesses of his soul, still a closet moderate.
They were the ones who pressed a true conservative on him. And their favorite - actually, their darling - was Ryan. Why they would do that, I cannot say. To me it looks like an assisted suicide of the Romney campaign.
The latest state polls had shown Obama with an 11-point lead. But, this is August, not November. The state could have ended up in play.
Now, the game is over. La guerre est finie.
Even Voter ID won't save Romney now. Prediction: Obama by 8 points in Pennsylvania on Nov. 6.
-- Tom Ferrick