Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan may have been a big hit with Republicans in Washington, but Americans nationwide generally gave Mitt Romney’s new running mate lower marks in a new USA Today/Gallup poll.
Of those polled, 42 percent of Americans have a “fair” or “poor” view of Ryan, while 39 percent find him to be an “excellent” or “pretty good” choice for the vice presidency. An additional 19 percent had no opinion of him.
In 2008, Sen. John McCain’s choice, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, received high marks from 46 percent of those polled at the time. Then-Sen. Joe Biden was well-received by 47 percent. And all were lower than then-Sen. John Edwards in 2004 at 64 percent positive or Dick Cheney in 2000 at 55 percent.
Ryan remains widely unknown across the country, with 39 percent of those polled saying they have never heard of him.
“All these numbers indicate is the simple fact that Congressman Paul Ryan was not a nationally known figure prior to being named as Gov. Romney's vice-presidential pick,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse told USA Today. “Congressman Ryan's selection reinforces the seriousness of the issues that will be debated in this election and President Obama's failure to get Americans back to work and his inability to strengthen the middle class.”
Democrats have already begun trying to define Ryan as someone who would “end Medicare as we know it.” Republicans say his addition has brought new focus and energy to the ticket.
The poll showed that 48 percent think Ryan is qualified to serve as president, with 29 percent disagreeing. His numbers were nine points higher than Palin, but nine points lower than Biden, Edwards and Cheney.
Overall, just 17 percent of voters thought the addition of Paul to the ticket makes them more likely to vote for Romney. In 2008, Palin made 18 percent of Americans more likely to vote for the McCain ticket, while just 14 percent were more likely to vote for Obama with the addition of Biden.
The one-day poll was conducted Aug. 12 and involved 1,006 adults. The margin of error was four percentage points.