Those Pesky Urban Voters

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 13 2012 1:51 PM

Those Pesky Urban Voters

Paul Ryan's "how I screwed this up" tour begins with the ol' "too many liberal urbanites voted" chestnut.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

“I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race,” said Ryan to local station WISC-TV in his first post-election interview. “When we watched Virginia and Ohio coming in, and those ones coming in as tight as they were, and looking like we were going to lose them, that's when it became clear we weren't going to win.”

This has engendered the expected shock-and-sputter over Ryan's dismissiveness. The highlight of the genre, clearly, is a New York Times story that cites "one person on Twitter" and "another" to show that Ryanrage is growing.

I'd argue that Ryan's position is fairly savvy, given what else is out there. A rumor du jour on the right (which I plan to get into as soon as our national Petraeus nightmare winds down) is that the lack of Romney votes in some Philadelphia and Cleveland precincts suggest that there was ELECTION FRAUD. There is, however, plenty of precedent for inner-city precincts voting heavily Democratic. Most of the precincts in question gave a similarly non-existent number of votes to John McCain in 2008. McCain didn't really campaign in those cities, ceding the black vote to Barack Obama.

No, I think Ryan's next statement is more revealing.

“I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare — we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” he said.

Ryan spent weeks promising to "win this debate" over Medicare, so he can't say he lost it. But what he's implying here is that voters, for other reasons, simply didn't consider the wisdom of the big arguments. And that's sort of the argument Republicans make about urban voters -- they vote so reflexively Democratic, they're hardly responsive to policy debates.

Ryan's solution to this problem seems to be backing Tom Price over Cathy McMorris-Rodgers for the fourth-ranking role in the GOP conference, which would make it an all-white male leadership team again.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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