Poll: Ryan-Meh-ntum

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 13 2012 1:03 PM

Poll: Ryan-Meh-ntum

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WAUKESHA, WI - AUGUST 12: Republican vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin native Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) wipes away tears as he and presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greet supporters during a campaign event at the Waukesha Expo Center on August 12, 2012 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Romney continues his four day bus tour a day after announcing his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images

Via Aaron Blake, ugh.

The USA Today/Gallup poll shows 42 percent of Americans rate Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan (R-Wis.) as “fair” or “poor,” while 39 percent rate it as “excellent” or “pretty good." Those numbers are worse than the initial reactions to both Dick Cheney in 2000 and Sarah Palin in 2008. And they appear to be the worst since Dan Quayle in 1988.
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Some context: The first few days of a veep candidate roll-out are often the apogee of his/her public image. We remember Sarah Palin's 2008 debut as rough and nasty and personality-focused, which it largely was. But the first polls of Palin's favorability, at the end of August 2008, had her favorables at a net +15 or so; the Washington Post/ABC and USA Today/Gallup polls taken right after her convention speech gave her, respectively, 58 percent and 53 percent favorable ratings. (Republicans liked to point out that this was higher than Barack Obama's own favorability rating, which was momentarily sort of true.)

But there's no shock or surprise or tabloid family story with Ryan. He is being introduced, basically, as a smart young guy who spent 14 years in Congress. He got there at age 28, Joe Biden got there at age 30. Both men, initially, were picks that barely moved the needle.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.