Michael Brendan Dougherty sees a more competitive race in Wisconsin after the Ryan selection:

For Romney, one advantage of the Paul Ryan VP pick is that it moves the needle a bit in Wisconsin.

Michael cites the latest PPP Wisconsin survey, which finds that Ryan’s addition to the ticket aids the GOP a bit even though Romney’s unfavorability rating in the state is 50%:

Ryan has a pretty solid 44/39 favorability rating and if he was on the ticket Obama’s lead would decline all the way to 47/46. Ryan’s presence has the effect of further unifying the GOP base around Romney and also helping to bring some more independent voters into the fold.

The PPP report on the full results of the survey describes the improvement this way:

This movement comes almost entirely from an increase in support within Romney’s own party, as his margin jumps 7% among voters describing themselves as somewhat conservative and 5% among very conservative voters.

So Ryan’s addition has the expected effect of rallying more conservatives behind Romney. Romney may not be able to win Wisconsin without that boost, but it isn’t certain that it will be enough. Except among conservatives, Romney is very unpopular in Wisconsin. Among moderates, he has a higher unfavorability rating (66%) than Gov. Scott Walker (62%). Ryan’s unfavorability among moderates isn’t as high, but in spite of being less well-known 49% of moderates rate him unfavorably compared to 29% favorably. The Republican ticket fares equally poorly among moderates with or without Ryan. Along with “somewhat” conservative voters, moderates make up the largest portion of undecided voters, so that doesn’t bode well for Republican chances.

There is also something quite odd in the crosstabs that makes me wonder about the reliability of these results. If the survey is to be believed, Romney-Ryan receives 16% of the “very liberal” vote, and their respective favorability ratings among “very liberal” respondents are 17% and 18%. That seems unusually high. I suppose anything is possible, but does it make any sense that “very liberal” voters would be more inclined to favor Romney-Ryan than “somewhat liberal” voters? There is always some crossover voting, but not like this. Obama-Biden receives some support from “somewhat” and very conservative respondents, but there are far fewer “very conservative” Obama-Biden supporters, which is what you would expect. Generally speaking, the most ideological voters are least likely to vote for the other party.

It could be that there are a lot of disenchanted Wisconsin progressives angry with Obama for any number of reasons, but is it likely that so many of them would be willing to cast a protest vote for Romney? Would we call them the Romneylibs? (Do such people exist? What would their reasoning be?) Does it make any sense that the Republican share of the “very liberal” vote would increase slightly after Ryan’s name is included in the question (from 12% to 16%)? If this poll is right, Romney-Ryan stands to outperfom McCain-Palin among liberals in Wisconsin while underperforming among moderates, and they would be doing this while running on a relatively more conservative agenda than McCain did. None of that adds up. The Republicans don’t have to win in Wisconsin to win the election, so it may not matter in the end, but I don’t see how they will be able to win the state*.

* According to the 2008 CNN exit poll, moderates and liberals made up nearly 70% of Wisconsin voters.