It is not hard to see that something is happening in the presidential race. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are drawing huge crowds. Romney has a money advantage (another reflection of grass-roots enthusiasm). And a series of state polls in New Hampshire, New Hampshire and Michigan suggest the Romney-Ryan ticket is on the rise.

Inside the Romney-Ryan camp, there is cautious optimism that the tide is building as Republicans head into their convention. At the very least, the campaign has weathered the most treacherous time, when President Obama enjoyed a huge spending advantage

If the public polls and the Romney-Ryan camp’s temperature reading are correct, what accounts for the uptick?

With the caveat that this is what may be happening now and is not indicative of where the race may wind up, it’s fair to assume that several factors are at play.

The Romney team is multiplying the number of welfare-related ads, suggesting its work-for-welfare message is resonating:

Moreover, Ryan has energized the party and voters. Certainly his presence on the ticket has been a factor in a seven-point swing in Wisconsin.

In Ohio today, Ryan was making the case not only on Medicare but on jobs and energy, as this report observes:

“We are offering specific solutions to get Americans back to work, bringing over 500,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone,” he said. “One of those solutions lies right here. ...We have energy in this country; let’s use it. Coal, oil, gas-fracking, nuclear — all of the above.”

The pivot to jobs and energy specifically will be critical in Rust Belt states. Ryan, with Midwest roots and a plainspoken sensibility (He joked today: “I am a Catholic deer hunter. I am glad to be clinging to my gun and my religion.”) can deliver that message well.

That combination of issues — fiscal responsibility (including Medicare reform) and jobs (including energy development) — seems to be clicking for the GOP ticket. It does suggest that sticking with issues and sounding the reform message is smart politics. Oh, as was adding Paul Ryan to the ticket.