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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The \'Ryan Effect\' Proves Limited in Wisconsin

Representative Paul D. Ryan posed for pictures with fans of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday outside of Lambeau Field.Josh Haner/The New York Times Representative Paul D. Ryan posed for pictures with fans of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday outside of Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY, Wis. - How many points does Representative Paul D. Ryan put up on the Republican scoreboard in his native Wisconsin?

It is unclear as both campaigns lavish attention on the state in the final days, with President Obama returning on Monday to a battleground his team once thought safe, while the Romney-Ryan ticket also includes Wisconsin in its heavy rotation.

On Sunday Mr. Ryan participated in one of the state's sacred rituals, tailgating before a Green Bay Packers ga me in a clear play to Badger pride.

“What's the spread today? Anybody know?'' Mr. Ryan asked a crowd outside the Sideline Sports Bar and Restaurant near Lambeau Field before the game with the Arizona Cardinals. “Ten,'' people shouted back.

He tossed beanbags in a game of cornhole with his children as a few supporters chanted “Two more days!''

In interviews with several dozen Wisconsin voters casting early ballots in recent days in Mr. Ryan's home district, which is along the Illinois border in the south to Wausau in the northern tier, neither those supporting Mr. Romney nor President Obama cited Mr. Ryan as a top reason for their choice.

“It's basically tied right now,'' said Mark Smith, an accountant who voted for the Republican ticket in Appleton. Hoping Mr. Ryan “will help us win the state,'' he said the bigger factor would be the fierce partisan divide over the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, in June. “I'd like to t hink the holdover from the Governor Walker vote will carry the day,'' he said.

Although Mr. Ryan's selection by Mr. Romney in August energized conservatives nationally and seemed apparent in a narrowing of Wisconsin polls at the time, since then there has been no clear “Ryan factor” influencing Wisconsin surveys, polling experts said.

“We have not seen any polling with Romney ahead,'' said Charles Franklin, a political scientist who runs the Marquette Law School poll of the state.

Leaders of the Romney-Ryan campaign in the state point out that even as Mr. Ryan's national stature has soared, the majority of Wisconsinites have never had a chance to vote for the seven-term Congressman, and that Tuesday will give them the opportunity.

But Democrats say Mr. Walker's seven-point margin in which he won the June recall vote has not translated into an edge for Mr. Romney, nor has the Ryan selection.

“He's a bit playe r,'' said Paul Maslin, a Democratic pollster based in Madison. “It'll make a little marginal impact in the First District, but not substantial'' statewide.

Mr. Ryan was appealing to more than Badger pride by visiting Green Bay on game day. Surrounding Brown County and the Fox Valley to the south are a swing region, without the deep partisan loyalty of either the liberal haven of Madison or the Republican ring of suburbs around Milwaukee.

In a recent week Green Bay was the No. 1 media market for political advertisements in the country. Its residents have switched teams regularly - from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Mr. Obama to Mr. Walker.

Mr. Ryan's visit was a brief one on a day that also includes campaign stops in Ohio, Minnesota and Colorado.

“The only problem is that I don't have tickets for the game,'' he said to a fan, departing before the kickoff.

As he shook hands with Packers fans, he grasped the hand of a reporter for Politico , Juana Summers. “Hey, hey there,'' he said. “Why don't you have any Packers flair?''

On Monday evening, Mr. Ryan will hold his final rally in Milwaukee, before heading home to Janesville to vote the following morning.