I think he’s going to end up not running, but if his favorables stay this high, maybe he has no choice.
He’s technically “next in line” and he’d make a decent compromise candidate (as would fellow Wisconsinite Scott Walker) for righties who are leery of Christie, Paul, and Rubio for various reasons. Second look at Paul Ryan?
Are Ryan’s numbers really that surprising? He’s been overlooked on blogs lately because we’ve all been busy shaking our fists at Rubio over immigration and gawking at the Rand Paul/Chris Christie brawl, but thanks to 2012, Ryan’s name recognition is sky high. He’s a warrior on the budget but soft-spoken enough not to spook moderates. Grassroots righties are newly steamed at him because he seems to be slipping into the Rubio role in the House of pushing conservatives towards a deal on amnesty, but nothing’s happened yet and he’s smart enough to keep a much lower profile on the issue than Rubio did. Most low-information voters on our side probably know him as that nice young guy from the midwest who’s deeply concerned that our spending is unsustainable. Why wouldn’t he be at 65 percent favorables? And why wouldn’t he have better numbers with tea partiers than with centrists? His core issue is reforming the welfare state. Centrists resist that, partly because they’re more comfortable with bigger government and partly because they’re probably more sensitive on balance to “electability” concerns. Conservatives might be willing to risk a ferocious political backlash in the name of fixing entitlements. I doubt many centrists are.
The real surprise is Rand Paul’s numbers. His favorables among tea partiers are now 11 points better than Rubio’s, thanks in part to immigration, of course. But his numbers among non-tea-partiers are comparable to centrist hero Chris Christie’s and amnesty champion Marco Rubio’s. Maybe that’ll change in the primaries as his philosophy is scrutinized more closely; if centrists think Paul Ryan is too much of a threat to the welfare state, wait ’til they get a load of the great libertarian hope. Christie’s unfavorables among non-TPers are also a mild surprise. I wonder if that’s more a reaction to his policies or to fatigue with his tough-guy shtick. Either way, maybe he’s more vulnerable than we thought.
One more graph:
For all the babbling about party divisions lately vis-a-vis defunding ObamaCare, there’s only minor division on immigration. Pluralities on both the right and in the center think the GOP should be more conservative about the border. Tell me something, though: What would it mean for the party to be “more conservative” on gay marriage at this point? Despite a heavy tide nationally and in government in favor of legalizing SSM, only a handful of congressional Republicans have come out in support of it. House Republicans sued to enforce DOMA because Obama’s DOJ refused to. Rubio declared that benefits for gay spouses under the Gang of Eight bill would have been a dealbreaker for him. What should the party be doing to please social conservatives that it isn’t? Forget about the Federal Marriage Amendment. That’s nothing but a rhetorical device at this point; it’ll never pass.
I’m loath to close with something from Think Progress but if their transcript of this Paul Ryan townhall vid is accurate, it’s news. Here he is on immigration reform:
RYAN: […] Bringing these bills to the floor, we’ll find out. It is not, “they don’t come to the floor unless we have a majority of the majority,” because we don’t know if we have a majority until we vote on it. So here’s where I see things going. I’ve spoken to John Boehner as recently as three days ago about this, which is, we all agree it is better to legislate in stages instead of one big thousand plus page bill that no one has read. […] I’m trying to get to a consensus so a majority of us do support those component parts. I believe that’s achievable because when people really look at the details and they focus on what’s right, I believe what I’ve just laid out is something that a consensus of Republicans and Democrats can agree to.
Is that quote accurate? The audio makes it hard to tell. The whole point of the Hastert Rule is not to bring bills to the floor until the Speaker knows that a majority of his caucus supports them. Doing it the way Ryan describes (or seems to describe) would mean abandoning the Hastert Rule; you bring the bill to the floor, kinda sorta hoping/expecting that a majority of GOPers will vote for it, and if it turns out that only a few dozen do — plus 200 Democrats, such that the bill passes — then whoopsie! Guess they miscalculated. Is that what he’s saying or did TP misunderstand?