Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Democrats Love to Campaign against the "Ryan Budget" But Leave Ryan Safe in His Purple Seat

Yesterday, Joe Biden gave a speech at The George Washington University attacking the vision put forth by the Ryan budget.

Congressional Democrats have also been centering much of their election strategy and messaging around the Ryan budget. DCCC chairman Steve Israel has said that the Ryan budget will "define" the campaigns this election cycle.

However, for all of the criticism heaped on Paul Ryan's budget by the DCCC, the DCCC doesn't seem that interested in challenging Ryan himself.

Paul Ryan is the representative of Wisconsin's 1st district. You might be surprised to learn that WI-01 is quite the purple district, when you look at presidential elections. In 2012, Romney beat Obama only by a few points: 51.6% to 47.4%. In 2008, Obama won the district 50.8% to 48.1%.

In both elections, however, Ryan did far better than the Republican presidential candidate. In 2008, even though Obama eked out a victory in WI-01, Ryan won re-election with 64% of the vote. In 2012, he won 55% to 43%, not racking up as large of a margin over the Republican presidential nominee but still with plenty of room for comfort.

A district that Obama won in 2008 and only lost by a few points in 2012 seems like a district worth contesting. And given that its representative is the focus of so many attacks by the party, it seems like a perfect choice for the DCCC's Red to Blue program. You would think so, wouldn't you? But Steve Israel hasn't paid any attention. It's nowhere to be found in either the Red to Blue or "Emerging Races" lists on the DCCC website.

And there's already a Democratic candidate in WI-01: Rob Zerban, who held Ryan to his smallest margin of victory ever back in 2012 and wants a rematch.

The DCCC spent very little in this race in 2012. If I read the FEC filings correctly, then the DCCC spent only $7500 in WI-01 during 2012, with all of that spending occurring between July and September. Nothing was spent in the month leading up to the election. That's not how you win an election.

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