Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan is 20 points less popular than John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin in 2008, 58%-38%.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that by a margin of 38%-33% respondents thought favorably of Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate. Sixty two percent of Republicans had a favorable view of the pick, but only 39% of Independents and 19% of Democrats felt the same way. Women were split on the pick, with a favorable lean, 37%-30%-33%. Voters age 18-39% had an unfavorable impression of the selection, 34%-36%-30%, and the pick was most popular with voters over 65, 46%-28%-26%. (These voters must not be aware of Ryan’s plans for Social Security and Medicare yet.)
In 2008, the same ABC News/ Washington Post poll found that Sarah Palin debuted with a 58% favorable rating. Her national unfavorable rating was 28%. Palin made a big and immediate impact with white women. Just after her debut, 67% of white women, and 80% of white women with children at home thought favorably of Palin. There were warning signs of trouble ahead as the country was divided 47%-45% on the question of whether she was qualified to be president, but Palin brought an initial flood of good publicity and support to the McCain campaign.
By the Palin standard, Paul Ryan isn’t a game changer. Ryan is more likely to crystallize the shape of the race. He has already fired up the tea party, but they were going to vote for Romney anyway. The one thing that the Romney campaign is hoping to avoid is Sarah Palin’s spectacular crash and burn.
The upside of Paul Ryan is that he is a known figure. The downside of Paul Ryan is that most voters have already made their minds up about him. Roughly, 2/3 of voters already have an opinion about him.
Ryan reinforces Romney’s themes, both good and bad. He does not give the Republican nominee the same opportunity to remake his campaign that Sarah Palin gave John McCain. Since Saturday morning, there there has been much whooping it up by the right about how Ryan changes the election for Romney.
This election will still be decided by how the candidate at the top of the ticket performs. Despite her historic flame out, Palin wasn’t the reason why McCain lost. The minute McCain uttered the words, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” the election was over.
Ryan’s baggage of his budget and his Medicare privatization plan will have more of an impact on this election than the man himself.
Paul Ryan isn’t going to be able to save Mitt Romney from himself, which will end up being a bad thing for the Republican Party’s chances in 2012.