Romney Ryan 2012

(photo: DonkeyHotey/flickr)

One of the more, erm, interesting conspiracy theories expressed about the first Obama-Romney debate is that Obama threw the debates in order to hurt the downticket Democratic races so he will continue to have a GOP House to use as an excuse for not doing much in the way of progressivism in his next term.

The problem with this theory is this fact: Romney was poised to lose money to House and Senate GOP candidates before last night:

The Romney campaign is experiencing what some officials believe could be the beginning of a mass exodus of big money donors diverting their cash away from the Republican presidential hopeful and toward Republican candidates for the House and Senate races more likely to win in November, the FOX Business Network has learned.

The trend isn’t at the acute stage, at least not yet, said one person with direct knowledge of the matter. This person, a major player in Romney’s New York fundraising circles, confirmed to FOX Business that a few New York donors have backed away from financial commitments to the Romney campaign and instead said they will spend their money to help the Republicans hold on to the House of Representatives, and pick up seats in the Senate.

But another person with direct knowledge of the matter says the trend, though nascent, is more geographically broad based, and reflects an increasing degree of anxiety both with what they believe is the tentative nature of the Romney campaign, and recent poll numbers that show President Obama with a lead, particularly in key battleground states, that some Republican contributors are starting to believe is insurmountable.

I’d read a similar story in Huff Post on this topic; I also seem to remember another story (which of course I can’t find now) where it was stated that Romney had one week to go before big donors like Adelson dumped him and concentrated on the House and Senate races. If Obama really did throw the debate — something about which I’m agnostic — then what he did, in essence, was to force Adelson and the Kochs to keep spending money on Mitt Romney, thus denying that cash to downticket Republicans

The irony is that Romney’s success or failure isn’t really impacting the rest of the ticket. per Charlie Cook. They’re failing on their own, without Mitt’s help. But Senate candidates are still distancing themselves from Mittens — and particularly from his running mate Paul Ryan:

In Connecticut, McMahon rejected Romney’s comments about 47 percent of Americans, saying “the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be.” She is running against Democratic U.S. Representative Chris Murphy for the seat of retiring independent Senator Joe Lieberman.

Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Murphy, said in a statement that McMahon’s decision not to attend the Ryan events showed she wanted to “run” from her party’s presidential ticket.

Murphy’s campaign also tried to use the Ryan fundraising visit to tie McMahon to the vice presidential nominee’s proposal to revamp Medicare, the government’s health-care program for the elderly.

[...]

Starting in 2023, Ryan’s plan would convert Medicare into a voucher program, offering seniors a fixed-dollar amount of support based on a competitive bidding process.

McMahon’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.

To sum up: Republican Congressional and Senate candidates have been worried about the effect of Romney-Ryan on their races, even though Charlie Cook states that Romney-Ryan’s flounderings aren’t the main reason their campaigns are having such surprisingly tough going (may I suggest it might be because the Republicans have burned their bridges with seniors, a group whose white male members they usually woo, by going Full Metal Tea Party on them?). Now that Romney’s getting what looks like a lift from the debate, the Big Sugardaddy money that was poised to be diverted away from Romney and into downticket races is going to stay firmly anchored at the top of the ticket, and by the time it becomes obvious that the lift was a dead-cat bounce, it’ll be too late in the game to repurpose that dough. Awwwww.