Ryan and Republican Failure in the Midwest
It shouldn’t be news that Romney hasn’t carried Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania. It’s extremely unusual for Republican presidential candidates to win these states. Wisconsin might have seemed plausible because Ryan was on the ticket, but Ryan was not very well-known statewide and his favorability ratings had been mixed ever since he became a prominent national figure. As the race progressed, Wisconsin reverted to being the reliable Democratic state in presidential voting that it has been for many cycles. The last time any of these three states voted for the Republican candidate was in 1988 when the elder Bush carried Michigan and Pennsylvania, and even in that year Wisconsin voted for Dukakis. Expecting Republican victory in Wisconsin was akin to expecting a Democratic ticket to carry Oklahoma or Alabama.
So there was never any reason to expect that the Republican ticket would be competitive in these states this year, but Romney and Ryan acted as if there were. There are countless factors that make for unsuccessful presidential campaigns, and many of them are out of the control of the campaign. Even so, I stand by my earlier assessments that believing that they had a chance in these states was misguided, and it led them to waste time and resources that likely could have been better used somewhere else.