Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


State becomes divided battleground for election

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin native, may have contributed to Wisconsin’s importance in the upcoming presidential election.[/media-credit]

It is election season in Madison, and campus is naturally radiating political energy. State Street, East Campus Mall and just about every street corner within city bounds have been plagued with campaign workers and political activists encouraging students and the general public to register to vote.

While Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in the past six elections, polls and analysis have demonstrated that the Wisconsin vote may be unpredictable for the first time in decades after its recent designation as a swing state.

President Barack Obama captured 56 percent of the Wisconsin presidential vote in the 2008 election, with substantial support from the Milwaukee and Madison populations. If Republican contender and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is able to win Wisconsin’s electoral votes in the upcoming presidential election, he will be the first Republican candidate to do so since Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1984, according to a Federal Election Commission report.


University of Wisconsin political science professor Kenneth Mayer said the presidential election has a tremendous contribution to the university’s atmosphere.

“People are engaged. There is an increasing amount of candidate advertising,” Mayer said. “The city is getting a lot of attention, more so because of Wisconsin being a swing state.”

Obama’s visit to the UW campus Oct. 4 generated an estimated crowd of more than 30,000 people, not including the 6,000 people who could not be admitted because of the reached capacity at Bascom Hill. Mayer said if Romney made a visit to campus, it would have generated far less enthusiasm from the recognizably liberal campus and city.

When Romney designated Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, as his vice presidential running mate this summer, Wisconsin’s importance in the election escalated.

Still, Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, a non-partisan political research organization, remains unconvinced Ryan has enough experience to be a successful vice president for the U.S.

Heck said 42-year-old Ryan lacks experience in areas such as foreign policy and private sectors, but his demographic profile is just the ticket. Ryan’s Irish-Catholic, All-American persona has been well supported by the majority of the Republican population in this country, Heck said.

“It is hard to say on whether Ryan is qualified for the job,” Heck said. “He is certainly not as qualified compared to [current Vice President] Joe Biden who has 36 years of training. Ryan is not inexperienced, but his foreign policy experience is limited. Look at [former Republican Vice Presidential candidate] Sarah Palin though; he seems experienced in foreign policy in comparison to her.”

A recent Marquette Law Poll on Romney’s selection of Ryan as a whole reported 31 percent of registered voters said “excellent,” 27 percent said “pretty good,” 16 percent “only fair” and 19 percent “poor.” A separate Marquette Law Poll showed 57 percent of registered Republican voters believe Romney’s selection of Ryan made them more likely to vote for Romney, while only two percent of Democrats agreed.

However, Ryan’s selection has increased favorability and public awareness of him. In a July Marquette Law Poll, Ryan was rated favorably by 36 percent, which increased five percentage points after his selection as vice presidential candidate was announced.

Heck said although one would think that Ryan’s residency in Wisconsin would have a large effect on the upcoming presidential election, it has not has given Romney the advantage he needs in Wisconsin.

“One would have thought Ryan’s Wisconsin residence would have a tremendous impact, especially since Ryan has been well known to Wisconsinites for 14 years,” Heck said. “But he is not giving Romney that bounce of an advantage. Most likely because his role as vice presidential candidate is different than what he and the public are used to; he now has to lead the attack on Obama.”

Christian D’Andrea, policy analyst for the MacIver Institute, a Wisconsin-based organization promoting free markets, individual freedoms and limited government, also said he believes that Ryan was an interesting choice for vice presidential candidate.

D’Andrea said the vice presidential debates are often overanalyzed, and have much less of an effect on the outcome of the presidential election.

Both Heck and Mayer also agreed the vice presidential debate will have very little impact on the election. Mayer said the vice presidential candidate selection has not affected an election since 1960.

“The vice presidential debates are more for show than for changing voter’s opinions,” D’Andrea said. “If anything, it is for changing undecided voter’s minds, and the population of undecided voters is relatively small in this election.”

With less than one week left until the election, Mayer said citizens should expect many changes to occur in both campaigns. As of Oct. 14, Obama had a lead with 49 percent and Romney at 48 percent among registered voters.

“There is no question that Romney is behind in the Electoral College tally,” Mayer said. “Candidate’s strategies will start to crystalize. They will be spending an increasingly large amount of time in the swing states [in the next two weeks]. Time is their scarcest resource.”

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