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The GOP's down-ballot anxiety

When a party's presidential ticket comes together, one of the first considerations is whether that ticket has a better chance of winning in November. But what about the candidates a little further down on the ballot?

...Republicans in and outside of Washington also privately expressed concern that [Paul Ryan] gives Democrats an all-too-easy way to make the 2012 election about a set of conservative ideas that have faced decidedly mixed results at the ballot box. Ryan's wonky appeal may have won over the Beltway, but selling a Medicare overhaul to voters in, say, Florida, is an altogether different task.

"We might as well have just picked a random Heritage Foundation analyst," said one GOP strategist involved in the 2012 campaign. "The good news is that this ticket now has a vision. The bad news is that vision is basically just a chart of numbers used to justify policies that are extremely unpopular."

National Journal also reported that some Republican congressional campaigns have already conceded they expect to be playing defense in the fall as the political debate begins to focus tightly on still relatively obscure details of Ryan's plans to slash public spending."

A moderate Republican congressional candidate in Massachusetts responded to the Ryan news by distancing himself from the Ryan plan. Soon after, a GOP candidate in New York did the same thing, issuing a statement saying, "It has always been my position that I do not support the Ryan budget and its proposals regarding Medicare." In Connecticut, Senate hopeful Linda McMahon said something similar.

Expect to hear more of this. Democratic Senate candidates in Virginia, Arizona, and Nevada all pounced on the news of Mitt Romney's running mate by tying their GOP rivals to the unpopular Ryan budget agenda -- and that was mid-day Saturday. It's likely Dems will stay on the offensive through the fall, as Republicans are pressed to take a stand all over again on the wildly unpopular measures in the Ryan plan.

Remember, as recently as June, Republican Senate hopeful Denny Rehberg in Montana and Republican Rep. David McKinley in West Virginia ran ads touting their opposition to their own party's budget plan. With Ryan now serving as the GOP's vice presidential nominee, the challenge for these congressional candidates is even more difficult.