We are one week into Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan. A number of polls are coming out telling a variety of stories about what it means. But one thing is clear: Barack Obama's campaign has had several significant strategic failures this summer. And they failed to define Paul Ryan out of the gate with their Mediscare tactics. And they failed to define Mitt Romney this summer with a huge campaign spend.
The Obama campaign hoped to use the summer to define Mitt Romney. They spent $25 million in May ads. Obama spent $58m in June. What effect did it have? At the end of July, Purple Strategies, a bipartisan polling firm, found (PDF) that Romney has pulled ahead of Obama, even as Obama's favorability ticked up slightly. Obama's out of control campaign spending yielded nothing, just like his out of control government spending yielded nothing. Politico even described that poll as giving the Ryan pick a small bump for the Romney campaign.
But then the bombshell came. After a week of Mediscare attacks on Paul Ryan, they were not able to dislodge seniors in Florida. According to a poll, reported by the Palm Beach Post:
But two Florida polls conducted since Ryan’s selection suggest that voters who are 65 and older support Ryan and his budget plan more than younger voters do. A third Florida poll released this week doesn’t include an age breakdown, but finds the state’s voters agreeing more with Ryan’s description of his budget and Medicare plan than with Democratic criticisms that it would “end Medicare as we know it.”
The challenge for the Obama campaign is that if they can't scare older voters away from Republicans with dishonest attacks on Paul Ryan's proposal to save Medicare, then they are trapped. Paul Ryan turns out to be a big win. He is a candidate who is deeply connected to the industrial midwest which will be the swing region of the country this election. The Purple Strategies poll found that he helps most in Ohio. He will also help with young voters disenchanted and under-employed by the failure of the Obama economy.
So the Obama campaign has failed in the two main tests. They hugely overspent Romney to disqualify him. They failed. And they have tried for three years to attack Republicans with the Ryan budget. And the polls in Florida, the place that should be most vulnerable to attacks, show that that failed.
Chicago, you have an emergency.