Thursday, June 09, 2011

Wisconsin GOP likely to redistrict Ryan's seat to make it even more red. Taking no chances, eh?

I have written a few times that Congressman Paul Ryan, of the Wisconsin 1st District, would be wise to forget about any presidential aspirations in 2012 and instead focus on retaining his own seat. In truth, I don't think there is much chance that he would lose it but for the fact that the budget plan carrying his name, which would essentially privatize Medicare, is so unpopular.

Sure, Democrats are salivating over what happened in the special election in the New York 26th, and it will be a good issue to run on, but Ryan has been winning easily for quite some time and has never received less than 63% of the vote.

Again, it's a hard pick-up for the Democrats, though an item today in The Huffington Post did catch my eye. It read:

Ryan's 1st Congressional District stretches along the Illinois border from industrial Racine to the rolling farms of Rock County. Republicans, who control the state legislature, are expected to use redistricting to make it more red, pulling it west away from the bluer communities along the shore of Lake Michigan.

So, while Ryan losing seems a long-shot, the fact that his Republican friends at the Legislature are stacking the deck to help him along to victory is interesting. Maybe they know something we don't know, or maybe they know exactly what we know.

The 1st as constituted now is a swing district, going for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008. Governor Walker's budget-cutting measures and assault on public sector unions have certainly helped to make Republicans more vulnerable than they would otherwise be, and then there's that pesky Medicare issue.

To state the obvious, as Kyle Kondik, analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, has done:

It's difficult to imagine that Ryan will lose. But if he does, it will be because there is a Democratic tidal wave. A tidal wave that will have been created in no small part because of Ryan's budget proposal.

If that tidal wave comes, and that's a huge "if," Ryan could be vulnerable. Without his budget plan, we are not even having this conversation. Ryan says that's not a problem for him because his budget is more important than his seat. Okay. I'd be interested to know how many others in the GOP House caucus feel the same way - those who don't typically win with 63% of the vote.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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