Posted without further comment, some excerpts from this analysis of the Ryan choice, by Nate Silver in the NY Times:
Mr. Romney’s campaign could have cherry-picked the polls that showed him ahead, the worst economic statistics, the most favorable historical precedents, and concluded that it was a favorite.
Evidently, it did not do that. The ability to perform an honest self-assessment is rare for all of us. Mr. Romney, in making this outlook, may have been aided by his background in seeking to turn around distressed companies.
Why am I concluding that Mr. Romney would have chosen Mr. Ryan only if he felt he was losing? Because from a Politics 101 point of view, this isn’t the most natural choice.
Mr. Ryan is a national figure of some repute — before Saturday morning, his national name recognition was about 50 percent — but he has never been elected to anything larger than his Congressional district of about 700,000 people. Members of the House of Representatives have only occasionally been selected as running mates. The last one on a winning ticket was John Nance Garner, the speaker of the House, in 1932. The last time an ordinary member of the House was elected vice president, and the last Republican, was more than 100 years ago: in 1908, when William Howard Taft and James S. Sherman, a New York congressman, were chosen by voters. (Coincidentally, that fall was also the last time that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.)
Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center. (The statistic does not provide scores for governors and other vice-presidential nominees who never served in Congress.)
Mr. Romney decided to change his strategy rather than to make a tactical choice. He wants to shake up the race, and I expect Mr. Ryan to do that.
Young, attractive and outspoken, Mr. Ryan will be loved by conservatives — and just as assuredly, detested by liberals. In a race that lacks compelling story lines and fresh faces, he may become the focal point. It seems entirely plausible that his rallies will draw larger crowds than either of the presidential candidates themselves, and that stories about him will draw more Internet traffic, especially in the early days of his candidacy. He should also be a fund-raising magnet — for Mr. Romney, and probably also for Mr. Obama.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly can guess who I’ll be voting for, but just in case there’s any doubt in your mind: