A plurality of Americans are not enthusiastic about Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.
Forty-two percent said they viewed Ryan’s candidacy as a “fair” or “poor” move by the Romney campaign, compared to 39 percent who said it was an “excellent” or “pretty good” choice.
According to historical data from USA Today/Gallup, the last vice-presidential candidate to perform worse in the poll after being unveiled as a presidential candidate’s running mate was former Vice President Dan Quayle in 1988. A majority of Americans, 52 percent, said Quayle was a “fair” or “poor” pick at the time.
Seventeen percent said they would be more likely to vote for Romney now that Ryan is his running mate. USA Today/Gallup said that is about the same impact as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had on the GOP ticket in 2008.
Forty-eight percent said Ryan would be ready to step in as president if the situation should arise, versus 29 percent who said he was not ready, and 23 percent who were undecided. Quayle and Palin were the only candidates to score worse on that question, according to USA Today/Gallup.
Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse attributed the low marks to Ryan not being widely known outside of Washington or his home state of Wisconsin.
“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,” he told USA Today.
Both sides have moved quickly to define Ryan to those who might not know him.
Democrats have tried to paint the seven-term lawmaker as outside the mainstream, with senior campaign advisers to President Obama David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter blasting the House Budget Committee chairman’s fiscal plans in television appearances on Sunday.
The Obama campaign has focused its attacks on the Ryan budget, which would cut $5 trillion, overhaul the tax code and shift Medicare to a subsidized private insurance model.