You Love Him, You Love Him Not: The Public’s Reaction to the Ryan Pick


Less popular than Sarah Palin?  Ouch, that’s got to be a tough one for the Romney/Ryan 2012 campaign.

The dust has settled and the frenzy of coverage is slowing down a bit from this weekend’s surprise vice presidential announcement. Now the public can get a more accurate understanding of whether former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s addition of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to the ticket did anything other than distract the media from that whole “super-secret tax returns” thing.

The answer? No, not really.

The public’s favorable view of Paul Ryan after it was announced he would be Romney’s running mate increased by 15 points, but the increase came primarily from people who had no opinion of him in the first place. Those who had unfavorable opinions of him increased as well, although by only one point. Unfortunately for Ryan, he still has the lowest favorability rating of any vice presidential pick since 2000.

In fact, America just isn’t that excited yet. “Americans don’t believe GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney hit a home run with his choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate,” writes USA Today after releasing their poll.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how Ryan fares with individual votes as long as he brings in some key states that Romney would have had difficulty winning on his own. But there, too, Ryan provides little support. Chris Cilliza analyzed the map and believes that other than a slim chance of winning Iowa and Wisconsin, and probably losing Florida over the choice, it really won’t be the gamechanger Republicans claim it will be.

Outside of those three states, it’s a more mixed bag as to whether Ryan helps or hurts. While we are open to the idea that Ryan can help in the swing upper Midwest states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania in particular, it feels too early to make any ratings changes there since, in Ohio and Pennsylvania especially, the case can be made that Ryan’s Medicare plan hurts not helps Romney due to their older populations.

Ryan, then, may be a game-changer from a policy perspective but when it comes to moving actual states on the electoral map, his impact is far less potent. At least so far.

Romney’s pick of Ryan has managed to get one group excited–anti-choice activists, who are thrilled with the “principled” belief that women should be thrown in jail for obtaining abortions if the procedure is eventually banned. Reproductive rights advocates are ensuring that the public is just as aware of these out of mainstream views. Planned Parenthood Wisconsin Public Policy Director Nicole Safar told Democracy Now:

He has certainly shown himself to be one of the most extreme members of the Republican Party on women’s health. I think you outlined it very well. He is—he wants to make abortion illegal in all cases. He has signed onto the personhood bill, which we’re very concerned will have implications for in vitro fertilization, for different kinds of birth control. It’s just a very extreme measure that has been defeated in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the country. And this is something that Congressman Ryan thinks is good public policy for the country.

Considering how low Ryan’s unfovorables already are with the public not being that aware of his record, it will be interesting to see where they go once they get to know him better.

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