There's also only one Protestant out of the four -- or none, to listen to the "He's a Muslim!" crowd.
When I heard last night that Romney was announcing his pick this morning -- in the middle of the Olympics, more than two weeks before the convention -- my first thought was, man, they're desperate to stop the bleeding. A few weeks of the gaffe-filled overseas trip, devastating coverage of the tax returns, polls showing Obama with a wider than lead than anyone in the Village ever imagined, a Coulter/Limbaugh-led conservative revolt...culminating in Romney's instantly ridiculed "Tell Obama to stop being mean to me" interview on Friday -- this campaign needed a change of subject FAST.
They also apparently concluded, from the right-wing fury, that they'd still not managed to lock down their base voters, so they bowed to the pressure of the Wall Street Journal/Bill Kristol et al. and picked the very dangerous Paul Ryan. I say dangerous not because I think he has that much impact on the presidential race -- I've never been persuaded the VP choice has ever played more than a miniscule role in a presidential outcome (and then only in 1960). I say it because the draconian-to-the-poor/generous-to-the-rich Ryan budget plan is an anchor that can be tied around the entire Republican party. Democrats have all year wanted to use it as a club with which to beat their opposition, but they've had some trouble getting their point across. It's been widely reported that focus groups found the specifics of the plan so horrifying that they literally refused to believe they were on the level; they assumed the focus group leaders were making them up. Now it'll be far easier for all the details of the plan to be put out in a form voters can understand. This can have a significant effect in down-ballot races.
This will not necessarily show up immediately. I guarantee that, over the next week or two, the Beltway media will give Ryan a tongue-bath, labelling him some combination of "serious" and "dreamboat-y". Remember, they were all in a swoon over Palin for a while. And the GOP convention should have the predictable bump in the polls for the ticket -- one that might hold for a bit, until the Dem convention moves the polls back.
All that is eyewash. The fundamentals of the election remain unchanged -- fundamentals that have long contradicted the "it's neck and neck" narrative shown by some polls and favored by the pundit class. The Keys to the Presidency system -- which has predicted every presidential outcome since it was developed -- has said since last year that Obama is a prohibitive favorite for re-election. Right-wingers keep telling us the year's going to turn out like 1980, when Reagan surged at the end. But the Reagan election profile this year resembles is far more 1984 -- a charismatic incumbent who effects major changes, avoids scandal, social unrest, intra-party or third-party challenge, and has an economy, while hardly booming, well out of recession during the campaign period, facing a lackluster and weak-seeming opponent. The political divisions in the country are sharper than they were in 1984 (back then, the South had convincingly turned GOP, but the moderate sections of the Midwest and Northeast were still willing to stay in the Republican coalition), so Obama won't get the 49 state breakaway Reagan did. But he's still got an excellent shot of winning far more comfortably than our genius analysts have been forecasting all year.