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Paul Ryan on The Battle for Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia

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Paul Ryan is my first guest on the show today. We cover the battle for Ohio, Colorado and Virginia and how those state’s economies could all be crippled by President Obama’s war on fracking and coal, as well as the president’s comments at the UN yesterday and the “skewed-up polls” being circulated by Quinnipiac and Marist. The transcript and audio will be posted here as soon as they are available, and can be used with attribution. (The president’s new fracking rules will be put out –surprise– after the election.)

As for the Quinnipiac Polls being peddled by the New York Times today, Qunnipiac’s own Peter Brown admitted to me on August 2 that a 9 point Democrat turnout advantage “is probably unlikely,” but his latest poll didn’t correct for this absurd sample, which still has 9 point Democratic turnout advantages in their Ohio and Florida numbers and 11 points in Pennsylvania. So, like Zogby, Strategic Vision and the Minnesota Poll before them, Quinnipiac seems destined for the heap of ruined reputations when Ds and Rs vote in roughly equal numbers on November 6. The lefties out in defense of Quinnipiac were the same ones who were loving on the exit polls on Election Day 2004, and on the Research 2000 ginned up for Kos or the Strategic Vision polls of questionable validity. If pollsters cannot defend their sample, the warning flag is out. Stick with gallup and Rasmussen.

I’ll consult the oracle, Michael Barone, in the last hour of today’s show for his take, and will also replay my interview from yesterday with National Journal’s Steven Shepard (transcript here) so you can see the credulity with which journalists approach pollsters –like investors to madoff, until the obvious questions get asked and not answered, and even therefater.

The Ryan audio and transcript:

Paul Ryan interview, 9/26/12

HH: Starting this hour with Congressman Paul Ryan, the next vice president of the United States. Congressman Ryan, welcome back.

PR: Hey, what’s going on, Hugh? How are you doing?

HH: I’m great. I know you were in Colorado today. You were in Ohio yesterday, though, not in Warren.

PR: Yeah.

HH: I hope you get back to Warren and to the original Hot Dog Shoppe, and all the other great places.

PR: Great place.

HH: Well, I wanted to focus on Ohio with you, and Colorado and Virginia to a lesser extent, and their energy policies, Congressman, particularly the Marcellus and the Utica shale formations.

PR: Right.

HH: These are the future of Ohio. And the President is going to put out new regs, his senior environmental assistant, Heather Zichal said so in December. Those are almost certainly going to kill fracking. What’s Romney/Ryan going to do about fracking, and about the energy production issue?

PR: So the Obama administration has ten governing agencies, four executive offices involved in regulating fracking. We are going to streamline this, because we want to open up fracking. We want to open up these resources so we can create jobs and get this energy. We have a lot of energy in this country. We’re going to use this energy. In particular, with regulation for fracking, we want to get the states to do it. We think that the states are better suited to do this. That’s part of our very comprehensive plan that Mitt Romney and I put out on how to get America energy independent, North America energy independent by 2020. And a key part of that is use our resources. That’s not just shale, but also coal. And there’s a lot of coal in Ohio as well, especially in Virginia and West Virginia and Pennsylvania. We lost 1,200 coal jobs in coal country just a week ago, in due part because the Obama administration’s hostility toward this. So it doesn’t take a big stretch of the mind, Hugh, to know that the President wants this kind of energy to be really expensive. I mean, that’s the whole goal of his national energy tax of cap and trade in the first place. And so he couldn’t get cap and trade passed through the front door of Congress, so now he’s doing it through the back door of regulations. And this is just another chapter in that story of his hostility toward American energy, toward oil and gas and coal.

HH: So when you got through…

PR: We believe in an all…what’s that?

HH: When you go through a place like Ohio, and you’re talking to people on the street, when I was just back there in August, and I go fairly frequently, they’re very excited about it. It’s transforming Trumbull and Mahoning Counties and Central Ohio. They’ve got the first steel manufacturing new plant to open in 50 years opened last year. And it’s revolutionary. But this fracking stuff can shut it down. Are people aware that the President is, you know, when he talks about energy independence, it’s just blowing smoke given his record?

PR: Yeah, I mean, he even uses our word, our phrase, all of the above. Actually, it’s not all of the above. And so you know what’s interesting is we can see a window into this incredible jobs explosion, because when you look at private land, like in North Dakota, they’ve got the lowest unemployment rate in the country. It is a boon. Incomes are going up, wages are going up, jobs are being created. It’s giving them revenues to fix their infrastructure. It’s a boom. And the problem is, the President wants to regulate these things in such a way that it becomes virtually impossible. He’s shutting off access to federal lands, to the Outer Continental Shelf. And so we have before us this new kind of technology we didn’t even have a decade ago that is right under our feet. It’s our energy, in our country, that makes us less dependent on foreign oil. And it will be a boon to manufacturing, lots of jobs, lower prices, more revenues, helps us close the deficit. It’s a great, it’s a great asset that’s right before us. But if you believe in the hostility towards carbon-based energy, if you believe in raising the price of carbon-based energy, which is the goal of cap and trade, then you’re going to regulate this thing the way he is.

HH: Now Congressman Ryan, if they put these regs out in the interim, they say they’re coming in December, do you expect a Romney/Ryan administration would revoke them?

PR: Yeah, so we see this, there’s a long list of things that we’re going to revoke and do differently. And those are published rules, so you remember those rules aren’t finalized until…

HH: Right.

PR: …you know, months later. Our goal is to reverse this hostility toward shale, toward oil and gas and coal, and get this stuff turned back on, to get these jobs created, and to turn the Keystone Pipeline back on. We’re really worried that the Canadians might throw in the towel on America, and then just ship it to China. And so we’ve got, first things first, right on day one, we’ve got a lot of work to do to open up these natural resources, so that we can use them to bring that oil from Canada into our country, to build that pipeline, to build refineries. We need to streamline regulations. Go to our website. Mitt has put up a very comprehensive policy on there about specifically how we’ll deal with this, how we’re invoke states’ rights so Ohio can regulate the shale exploration in Ohio.

HH: Now this is key to the Buckeye State, so I’m curious. There are polls out today from Quinnipiac, and the other one’s from Marist. They are saying that you, Romney and Ryan, are way behind in Ohio. I think they’re nonsense, given their turnout model. What do you think of those polls?

PR: Well, yeah, you can analyze these things those ways. I’ve heard the turnout model issue as well. The poll that matters is November 6th, and what President Obama is doing, he’s been outspending us I think something like two to one or three to one in Ohio. He’s just trying to trash Mitt Romney. I mean, look, President Obama cannot run on his record, so he’s just going to try and trash Mitt Romney and win this thing by default. He’s going to distort, he’s going to divide this country, he’s going to distort his record, Mitt Romney’s record, to try and win this thing on default. We are not going to fall for that. We are not going to fall for the President’s straw men arguments. We’re not going to fall for a president, you know, who I’ve never seen such a politician so skilled at striking heroic poses against imaginary adversaries. That’s what he’s basically doing with all these make believe straw men arguments. Mitt Romney and I are going to give the country a very clear choice. And that very clear choice is if you want a real recovery, by getting back to economic growth, individual freedom, free enterprise, we are going to do that.

HH: Now it seems to me, Congressman, they have given up on the senior scare to a certain extent, that you’ve gotten the message across…

PR: Yeah.

HH: …that if you’re 55 or older, nothing is changing. Is that your perception, that they stopped trying to win that argument, in fact, they don’t want to have that argument with you?

PR: They don’t want to have the argument, because they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They raided Medicare to pay for Obamacare. They have a new board of bureaucrats that will begin cutting benefits to seniors, which leads to rationed care. So they know if they go back into this debate, they’re culpable, and seniors begin to pay attention to what Medicare, how it’s damaged by Obamacare. So I think on that exchange, we’ve got the public educated. We’re going through and educating the public on these other things. And so what Mitt and I are going to do is offer the country very clear solutions how to get this country back on track by reapplying our founding principles, what are our ideas on jobs, on energy, on education, on trade, on cutting the budget, balancing the budget, reforming entitlements, reforming the tax code, getting the regulatory system cleaned up to get economic growth. We’re going to be offering them that choice so they can choose the opportunity society that America has been, the upward mobility society of economic growth and limited government and prosperity, strong national defense, peace through strength, or we can do four more years of what Obama has offered, which is going to end up with a welfare state and a debt crisis.

HH: Now Congressman, yesterday the President went to the United Nations, and this is part of what he said. It’s in context, and I want to play 17 seconds of his speech.

BO: The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.

HH: Now Congressman, when he said specifically this…

BO: The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

HH: …I thought to myself immediately that’s what’s going to be excerpted on Al Jazeera, and played on jihadist websites.

PR: Right.

HH: What does that mean, because slander in some circles means rebuking or disagreeing, or in any way doubting the creed? And so what was the President trying to say?

PR: Well, you know, I look at the broader context of his speech, and he basically said the challenge that we have are Iran, Syria and the Middle East peace process. And in every one of these cases, everything’s gotten worse since he became president. So I think he’s trying to speak to everybody in every way. But if you look at the result of his foreign policy, Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon, you’ve got 20,000 Syrians who have been slaughtered by the hands of this dictator, peace in the region’s further out of reach. By his own measure, you know, he is doing far worse. He’s been an abject failure. And so perhaps these are going to be distractions from the fact that these things that he measures himself by, he has failed. What I get out of this is America needs to be strong and resolute in discussing and projecting our values. We should not be equivocal on this thing.

HH: Is the President being honest with us on Benghazi?

PR: Well, he needs to talk to his own people. I mean, his own counterterrorism director, his own State Department, his own press secretary have said this was a premeditated terrorist attack, and he’s not even said that. So I think the President has more of a challenge just talking to his own people about this.

HH: Okay, last question, Congressman.

PR: We’ll dig to the bottom of this, and that’s what Congressional hearings and all these things are all about.

HH: You’re going back to Ohio, Virginia and Colorado? Is that, plus Florida, the four places you’re going to spend the most time?

PR: Absolutely. I’m going to hang up the phone and go to Colorado Springs right now.

HH: All right.

PR: And then I’m going to swing over to the places. We’re going to spend a lot of time there.

HH: Paul Ryan, great to talk to you again, Congressman. We’ll catch back up with you on the road.

End of interview.

The Barone transcript:

HH: As a young kid in Michigan, I’ll be you Michael Barone listened to Andy Williams in his heyday. Hello, Michael, welcome back from the Washington Examiner

MB: Hey, it’s good to be with you.

HH: Michael, the reason I called is the latest round of Quinnipiac polls for the New York Times shows Barack Obama with big leads in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. But it also shows a sample of plus nine Democrats in a turnout model for Ohio and Florida, and plus eleven Democrats in Pennsylvania. How do you assess the predictive validity of these polls?

MB: Well, I think, you know, I think there’s some serious questions about them. You know, we have to put this in context, Hugh. There’s some real problems with public opinion polling as an instrument. First of all, it’s inherently inexact. You know, random selection theory tells you that there’s an error margin, and that one out of twenty polls is outside that error margin. So let’s always keep that in mind. Second, there are low response rates now, which are a real problem. The PewResearchCenter reports that only 9% of the people that it calls are responding to polls. That’s way down from historic levels, and it raises the question are those people representative of the population as a whole that they’re trying to sample? You know, one thing that polls can’t tell you is the characteristics of people who won’t be polled. So that raises some serious questions. Are we getting skewed samples? We know from the exit poll phenomenon over the last many cycles that the exit poll results tend to come in more Democratic than the actual vote does, and measured at the same precincts. So there’s a question there. And third, we have an increasing population of cell phone only individuals, or households, who are probably tend to be younger, and probably in this election more Democratic than the population as a whole. Pollsters cannot use robocalls to call these people. They have to make expensive calls to cell phone exchanges, hand dialed, and this poses a real problem for public opinion pollsters. It’s more expensive. How many cell phone only people do you call? If those, if that population is, as the pollsters believe, significantly more Democratic, the decision on how many you call is going to affect the outcome of your poll. So and the fact is that we don’t know, because we’ve had an increase in the cell phone only population, what percentage of the voters they will turn out to be. So those are three problems that the pollsters face. Having said all that, looking at, for example, these Quinnipiac results, as you note, we see that they are more Democratic now than went Democratic in the 2010 electorate, which nationally was 35% Democratic, 35% Republican in party identification, but more Democratic than the 2008 electorate, which was 39% Democratic, 32% Republican by party ID. That’s out of line with what most political observers would have expected the outcome to be this year. Up until the Democratic convention, polling showed a consistently higher degree of enthusiasm, significantly higher, among people identifying as Republicans than among people identifying as Democrats. That gap has diminished, and I think I’ve seen one Gallup poll that said that self-identified Democrats actually expressing more enthusiasm after the Democratic convention. So it’s possible that we, you know, that Democrats are more likely to pass through the screens as likely voters or registered voters, or people interested in voting through the pollsters’ screens than they were prior to the Democratic convention. But we’ve seen these kind of polls all along, and they’re, you know, I think that you want to look at them with an asterisk in mind.

HH: Now Michael, I want to remind myself of something I asked, or you told me the last time we talked, which is that no presidential candidate has polled grater than 3% of the turnout for his party in the previous off year election. Am I recalling that correctly?

MB: I’m not sure if that’s exactly what I said, or the point that I addressed. Oh, yeah, I know what you’re saying. Basically, in the last three presidential elections, what we’ve seen is that the percentage for the winning candidate has been equal to or within one percent of the percentage for his party’s vote, share of the popular vote two years before.

HH: Okay, one percent. Wow.

MB: One percent. Now that’s not an in an electable rule. It did not turn out to be true in 1994 and 1996, where Bill Clinton outpolled his party two years before, and of course, he shifted policy. And if you look at the data before 1994, it doesn’t work until you go back years and years, because basically, there were a lot more split ticket voting. White southerners were typically voting Democratic for president, Republican for president, Democratic for Congress, and there were other anomalies in a countervailing direction. So the rule only applies to the last three presidential elections. But I think it’s, you know, looking at that, it suggests some peril for the Obama candidacy.

HH: Jay Cost…

MB: Yeah.

HH: …who I have tremendous esteem for, said look, what he cares about most in all of these polls is not what they suggest the prediction is, but how the independents are breaking. And he keeps looking at Quinnipiac, at Marist, at all of them, and the independents are breaking for Romney. In some cases, it’s a little bit just above a tie, but Romney is winning the middle and the independents. And he finds this to be the most significant factor in the polls. Do you agree with his assessment on that?

MB: I think that that’s one good way to look at it. And it’s just another way of saying that those polls are showing a significant Democratic party ID edge among those who were polled, and one that in many cases is greater than Democrats enjoyed in the 2008 results.

HH: Now when I come back from break, Michael, I want to ask you about Virginia and Florida. But before we go to break, how do you see Ohio, we’ve got a minute to the break, shaping up?

MB: Well, Ohio is a state which the Obama campaign has pumped a lot of money, a lot of negative Romney ads in, and I think key Romney people are genuinely concerned and puzzled exactly how they’re going to take it. They’ve got the bus tour going now. They need, I think, to show Ohioans how they can produce a better economy than the Obama policies have done, and are likely to do.

HH: I think the answer is going to be energy and fracking. I talked to Paul Ryan about that at the top of the hour, and that this resonates. But is that too far down in particularity, Michael Barone, in your opinion, to resonate with average voters?

MB: I think that in Northeast Ohio, where you’ve had a real potential fracking boom, and you know, you’ve seen steel mills open because of it, I think that people are aware of that, and I think that’s a good policy, that’s a good point to make. Obama’s EPA wants to stop fracking.

HH: As does his Department of the Interior.

– – – –

HH: Michael Barone, we talked about Ohio. The other big three – Colorado, Florida and Virginia. I think those are all in better shape for Romney/Ryan than Ohio, but what do you think?

MB: Yeah, I think Florida is very close. And when you’re getting Obama results off a plus 9 Democratic party identification, I think that’s inherently fishy, and that was the case with the CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll that we cited in the previous hour. I think that Florida, and remember, Florida is also the big one. It’s the biggest target state with 29 electoral votes, that old rule about the Republicans not winning the presidency without winning Ohio was formulated on the basis of most cases where Ohio had a whole lot more electoral votes than Florida, which it doesn’t anymore.

HH: And Virginia and Colorado?

MB: Virginia, I think that you know, Romney has to break through, I think, better than he has with the affluent voters in Northern Virginia. You know, again, there’s some reason to be suspicious of the polling results there so far. But I had thought on the basis of the primaries that Romney would score better among affluent voters in the affluent suburbs than previous Republican nominees going back the last 20 years, and so far, I haven’t seen evidence of that happening, or at least not great evidence.

HH: And what’s interesting, Romney was in Colorado two days ago. Paul Ryan, I caught up with him today in Colorado. They’re pouring a lot of time into the RockyMountainState. It might be their firewall in the West. What do you think?

MB: I think they’ve got a good chance for Colorado for a couple of reasons. You know the people talk about the big Latino vote in Colorado. The Latino vote in Colorado is less heavily Democratic than it is in states like New Mexico and Nevada and California. So I think that Obama won that state basically off white voters last time. The Republicans, even though they got beaten by blunders at the top of the ticket in 2010, did well in that state otherwise.

HH: Michael Barone, always a pleasure, from the Washington Examiner. Thank you. We will be reading the Almanac Of American Politics almost every day between now and the election. And if you don’t have one, you ought to go to Amazon.com and get one. That way, you’ll know what’s going on in every single electoral district.

End of interview.

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